John H. Van Vleck

Banquet speech

John H. Van Vleck’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1977

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the three recipients of the award in physics may I express our deepest gratitude and appreciation. May I add that it is a personal satisfaction to me to be sharing the award with Sir Nevill Mott, a friend of almost 50 years standing and Philip Anderson, a former student of mine from whom I learned a great deal. A plaque on the wall of the science building of Gustavus Adolphus College in the States begins as follows, “In the annals of human progress one of the honored names is that of Alfred Nobel. No recognition is more highly regarded in our modern world than the Nobel Prize…” This building is called Nobel Hall with the permission of the Nobel Foundation and is appropriately located in St. Peter, Minnesota, our state richest in Scandinavian heritage. There is one thing that the plaque does not mention. Even the most munificent endowment can lose its vitality and purpose through inapt and indifferent management. Were it not for the administrative skill, enthusiasm and verve which Sweden displays in connection with the Nobel award including the participation of Their Majesties, the decisions of the prize-awarding bodies and the interest of the student body and of the people as a whole, the prize would not have the renown and éclat which it does today throughout the world.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1977, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1978

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1977

To cite this section
MLA style: John H. Van Vleck – Banquet speech. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Mon. 24 Jun 2024. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.