Rudolph A. Marcus

Banquet speech

Rudolph A. Marcus’ speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1992

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I deeply appreciate the great honor that Your Majesties and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences are bestowing on me today. I believe that it is the entire field of electron transfer, which reaches into many areas of chemistry and into biology, that is being recognized. Individuals in this room, and many others who are not here, have made tremendous contributions to this area of research. I did have the good fortune to learn about some important results at a relatively early stage in the development of this field, and to have the background to treat the problems. I’m not sure that I fully realized, until I saw the Academy’s fine poster on electron transfer, how many areas of practical life those processes enter into.

I think that the award recognizes another aspect which sometimes occurs in science as well as in other fields – simplicity and beauty. The lay person may not recognize, as I did not recognize in mathematics until I spent a year or more at a mathematical institute, that the beauty which a scientist can experience after deriving a simple equation or executing an incisive experiment is just as real as that which the artist may experience in creating a work of art.

I believe, too, that there are many analogies between the spoil of skiing, which I dearly love, and doing theoretical work in science – the challenge and sense of excitement when the slope is a little more difficult than one feels comfortable with, or the boredom if too easy, or the probable disaster if too difficult.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge my great debt to individuals in this room – Norman Sutin, John Miller, and Sven Larsson in the electron transfer field, Seymour Rabinovitch for his pioneering work in another area, unimolecular reactions, which has occupied almost half my time, and to my family – my wife Laura, whose positive outlook and companionship have been so important during our forty-three years of marriage, and our three sons, Alan, Kenneth, and Raymond, who have long outdistanced their father in skiing, and with whom we have shared so many happy experiences, I thank Your Majesties and the Academy for giving me the opportunity to share this great honor with you all.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1992, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1993

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1992

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