May 28, 2024
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The Nobel Prize: Banquet speech

The text of M. Stanley Whittingham's speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm

M. Stanley Whittingham delivers his Nobel speech at the Nobel Banquet. M. Stanley Whittingham delivers his Nobel speech at the Nobel Banquet.
M. Stanley Whittingham delivers his Nobel speech at the Nobel Banquet. Image Credit: Dan Lepp (Nobel Media).

The original text of M. Stanley Whittingham’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, Sweden, on Dec. 10, 2019.

On behalf of Professor John Goodenough, Dr. Akira Yoshino and myself, we wish to thank the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Nobel Foundation for this honor.

More than a century ago Thomas Edison made many remarks about batteries. One of which was: “There is a way to do it better. Find it.” I would like to think that we found it and with a systematic scientific approach.

Nobel’s will stated that the prize will be used for “those who shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.”

Well, I suspect that everyone in the hall has at least one lithium battery with them, maybe more. I will let each of you decide for yourself whether the lithium battery is always a benefit.

This prize reinforces that science is truly an international endeavor, involving Europe, Asia and America; with myself an Englishman in America and John Goodenough, an American then in England, and Akira Yoshino in Japan. Science knows no geographical boundaries.

Neither does science recognize disciplinary boundaries: I am a chemist from Oxford University who went to a materials department at Stanford, then to materials chemistry at Binghamton; John Goodenough is a physicist from the University of Chicago who went on to become professor of chemistry at Oxford, then materials at Texas; Akira Yoshino is an engineer from Kyoto University, who went on to a distinguished career at the Asahi Kasei Corporation.

Just as a single discipline could not have achieved this discovery, so it could not have been accomplished without the support of many colleagues around the world, a number of them here in Sweden.

The Academy said: “They (lithium batteries) have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind.”

Colleagues, we hope that our discovery will let all of us work together to build a cleaner environment, make our planet more sustainable and help mitigate global warming, thereby leaving a cleaner legacy to our children and grandchildren.

Thank you

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