Innovating innovating: Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman reflects on his journey in an interview with News Anchorman Jacob Eilon
Prof. Shechtman is the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, an Associate of the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, and Professor of Materials Science at Iowa State University. On April 8, 1982, while on sabbatical at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., Shechtman discovered the icosahedral phase, which opened the new field of quasiperiodic crystals. Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of quasicrystals, making him one of six Israelis who have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The full interview is here.
Jacob: Our guest today is Nobel prize winner – Prof. Dan Shechman. Take us to the Nobel Prize research of your’s great story the quasi-crystals?
Dan: I Have discovered something that was in the books “Forbidden”… it was clearly forbidden and yet – there it was!. I Tried to understand it based on periodic materials with some defects called twins. I spent the whole afternoon, trying to find the twin. Couldn’t find them they were not there. it was something else, this was the day of the discovery.
Jacob: So how did you react to this rejection? Skepticism even by other scientists?
Dan: the other scientists that rejected me, were no small fries. I mean they were really excellent scientists. But they were not open to really something new in crystallography anyway.
Jacob: You were a hundred percent sure that you were correct?
Dan: a new group of avant-garde mainly young scientists around the world, Took my discovery and turned into a flourishing science. the world was exploding with new activity.
Jacob: The dynamics of innovation these days?
Dan: to understand the concept of innovating innovation let us look at what happened in the past. In the past innovation was done locally within the company, the arena of innovation is global now You don’t look for innovators in your hometown or in your organization, You look for innovators around the world. And you go to places where innovating thrives, you look for the brightest minds and you ask them to tell us, what’s new?
Jacob: Giants like Google on one hand or Facebook or Huawei or Tencent, Huge companies.
Dan: they go after the small ones the smart ones wherever they are in the world.
Jacob: You can predict where the world is going?
Dan: The world of innovation because you see the evolution over Subjects But you cannot predict Revolution and the large companies they should look for the revolution because if they create a revolution it’s their own, and it gives them a fantastic edge and this is why they should look for the brightest minds because these are the people that make the revolutions.
Jacob: But they do fail sometimes.
Dan: Oh, yes startups fail, most startups fail, but the question is okay, so you failed once what do you do next? give up go to work for somebody or say I rise again. I have a new idea I start again In some countries mainly in the Far East but also in Europe Failure is a shame. It’s a shame on you – shame on your family Maybe a shame on your city and therefore people are afraid of failure, fear of failure is the major obstacle to Innovation.
Jacob: Can you teach and educate the younger generation in China, for example, to initiate more to think differently?
Dan: I try to teach the gospel around the world, teach size early, As early as the kindergarten! it may change our world if you start teaching science at a very early age. Don’t look at young people as retarded adults. They are very very bright Grandchildren are amazing absolutely amazing. invest in them, Make them the future scientist and engineer of the world
Jacob: What would be your best advice to the young students to the next generation if you want to innovate?
Dan: You have to have broad knowledge of what’s happening you have to understand the world around you but on top of it develop one peak of expertise become an expert in something you like and I tell young people I promise you if you have broad knowledge and Become an expert in something you like you’re likely to have a wonderful future
Jacob: Professor, Dan Shechtman. I thank you very much.
Dan: My pleasure.