Pyotr Kapitsa’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1978
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I think I am not mistaken in believing that I am the oldest person who ever received the Nobel Prize.
My first scientific publication of some significance was made in 1913 and since then for 65 years. I have watched the great changes which have taken place in the scientific activity.
In my young days scientific work was concentrated in universities and mainly done by a few professors. The material means were very modest. The spending of a few hundred roubles for apparatus was considered a great event.
Towards the middle of our century the so called scientific-technical revolution took place. The social status of a scientist and his work took a new turn. Science became a productive force. Special scientific research institutions were organized, which possessed great material possibilities.
Nowadays the money spent on a scientific apparatus might be as much as some hundred million dollars.
In spite of this great change in the scientific activity still one thing remains constant – it is the Nobel Prize. It’s significance as the greatest scientific award on an international scale is universally recognized. This must be regarded as a unique achievement of Swedish scientists, as awarding prizes requires great wisdom.
It is worth while to note that no prize of equal international authority exists.
I humbly beg Your Majesty to transmit to the Royal Academy of Sciences on behalf of my colleagues Professor Penzias and Professor Wilson and myself our sincere appreciation of the great honour bestowed on us.