Sune K. Bergström’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1982
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,
According to Alfred Nobel’s will the prize that the three of us have shared is for “the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine” a discovery that “shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”.
As individuals we feel uneasy and somewhat doubtful if we fulfil the criteria of this remarkable will.
In our research work we have through the years collaborated with many hundreds of scientists and technicians in many countries.
We feel a little more comfortable if we are considered as representatives of these large groups of able and dedicated people working in these fields.
However, the traditional boundaries between various fields of science are rapidly disappearing and what is more important science does not know any national borders.
The scientists of the world are forming an invisible network with a very free flow of scientific information – a freedom accepted by the countries of the world irrespective of political systems or religions.
The literature laureate of this year has said that an author can do anything as long as his readers believe him.
A scientist cannot do anything that is not checked and rechecked by scientists of this network before it is accepted.
The scientists have come closest to creating the “open world” that the Danish Nobel laureate Niels Bohr described as a prerequisite for a peaceful development in his famous letter to the United Nations in 1950.
A promising development in this direction in the UN system is the involvement of thousands of biomedical scientists in the research work on the main health problems facing the world.
Great care must be taken that the scientific network is utilized only for scientific purposes – if it gets involved in political questions it loses its special status and utility as a nonpolitical force for development.
We believe that the Nobel prizes are playing an important role through increasing an understanding for what science can contribute to solving the formidable problems facing our world.
As representatives of the international network of scientists we have gratefully and happily accepted the prize.
Their work and discoveries range from how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen to our ability to fight global poverty.
See them all presented here.