Aage N. Bohr’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1975
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of all the laureates assembled here today, I have the great pleasure to express our thanks for your kind words and beautiful songs, worthy of the great traditions of Swedish student life.
As my colleague has described earlier, we have experienced the events of today as a performance of a great drama which symbolizes Alfred Nobel’s vision of science and art as the benefactors of mankind. It seems most appropriate at this point in the play that the actors impersonating the students of the world appear on the stage. As fellow actors, representing the older generation, we should like to compliment you on your splendid performance which so vividly has conveyed the exuberance and idealism of youth.
Indeed, without the continual renewal based on the spirit of youth, science and art would soon lose their vitality. It is not only that those who have carried on the battle grow old and must be replaced by new, but – even more – the interplay between the different generations is the dynamic process that carries the adventure forward. The attempt to explain our understanding to those who come with fresh minds and the experience of community with the creative force of youth is a profound source of inspiration. The constant questioning of our values and achievements is a challenge without which neither science nor society can remain healthy.
We live in an age with revolutionary changes, and the inadequacy of old frameworks for our thinking has led to a highly developed disrespect for authority and tradition. This even goes so far that the tradition for disrespect can also be looked upon – disrespectfully.