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.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.