Sometimes–it doesn’t happen very often–one can have new and revolutionary insights. That’s when facts, research and extensive knowledge combine to mean that the way we look at the world will never be the same again.
It is fantastic and it is something that happens in both wider and narrower contexts; whether you are in the lab yourself and inspiration strikes, or, in the wider context you are working with a research team and finally make a breakthrough. I think that many, not least in the academic world, can recall a time when a moment of clarity became a matter of course.
And if someone has the ability to reach out and talk about their groundbreaking research, then new discoveries can become a collective eye-opener.
In recent weeks, two outstanding educators and storytellers, if one may call them that–Professor Hans Rosling and the photographer Lennart Nilsson–have passed away. Each in their own way turned things upside down with their performances and discovered new connections: Hans Rosling in the field of global health and Lennart Nilsson in the origins of life.
In days like these, when people seem to be lining up to deny facts and when even scientific facts are under suspicion, it feels very good that both of them were awarded KTH’s great prize.
The citation for the annual prize that has been awarded, with only a few exceptions, every year since 1945, says among other things that it should go to a person who “through the epoch-making discoveries and creation of new values …”.
The list of recipients of the award also partly reflects Sweden’s industrial and technological development over the same period.
As we have been reminded of in the past week, Hans Rosling was able to enthuse an audience in a way that perhaps not many other people could. He was unique.
He showed how research and facts can be understood and how it is possible to reach out research to a diverse audience. It is also inspiring that playfulness and humour need not stand in contrast to weighty factual knowledge.
Increased visibility for the research carried out at KTH is not only part of our mission – it is something that can literally change the world.