The Svedberg

Banquet speech

The Svedberg’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, December 10, 1926


Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The extraordinary honour which has fallen to my lot to-day and the kind words that have been addressed to me call for an expression of thanks on my part to the Swedish Academy of Science, the authority that has awarded me the prize, and more particularly to its present Chairman, Professor Cassel, and to its permanent secretary, Professor Söderbaum.

Our age is before all things a practical one. It demands of us all clear and tangible results of our work. Hence it is but natural that the investigator with a purely scientific turn of mind should sometimes put to himself the question: Can any good come of my research and of my work? I venture to believe that most students would not only like to give, but also consider themselves able to give, a favourable answer to this question. A glance at the history of science and technics shows that it is precisely the search for truth without any preconceived ideas, research for the sake of knowledge alone, that in the long run has most benefited humanity. The investigations which have seemingly been the most purely abstract have often formed the foundation of the most important changes or improvements in the conditions of human life.

But for this very reason the servant of pure research must feel it peculiarly gladdening and honorific to be awarded the high distinction and the magnificent external recognition which Alfred Nobel’s prize involves, especially owing to the fact that it is meant for those whose work is considered – to use Alfred Nobel’s own words – to have done mankind the greatest service.

This mark of honour is felt to be still more valuable owing to the fact that it is bestowed through the venerable institution whose sound and impartial conduct as a judge with an unusually high degree of responsibility has been able to make this distinction perhaps the very foremost that can be bestowed upon a scientific investigator in our days.

Hence it is with the very deepest feeling of gratitude that I now venture respectfully to propose a toast for the Swedish Academy of Science.

From Les Prix Nobel en 1926, Editor Carl Gustaf Santesson, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1927

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1926

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