Sketches of Science: Nobel Laureates on Show


What are your impressions of a Nobel Prize winner? A scientist in a white coat and buried deep in research? A genius on a pedestal? White-hair wizards of science?

At the latest the Science Centre exhibition, Sketches of Science, you can come face-to-face with them (their portraits as least) and get to see a different side to them.

Here is what happened. At the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, Nobel Laureates were shown into a room and ‘ambushed’ by award-winning German photographer, Volker Steger. Given a blank piece of paper and some crayons, they were asked to spontaneously sketch out their Nobel Prize winning discoveries and pose for a portrait with them.

Crayons only, no PowerPoint slides please…

What emerged was a collection of 50 photographic portraits of Nobel Laureates, with unpolished sketches of their discoveries.

While some sketches are, as one may expect, overflowing with scientific formulae, others are creative works. Edmond Fischer (1992 Nobel winner for Medicine) drew a set of traffic lights, Martin Evans (2007 Nobel winner for Medicine) came up with a mouse with streaky eyes, and Leon Lederman (1988 Nobel winner for Physics) etched a cheeky eureka moment with a lady in it.

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Even the way the Laureates posed with their sketches gives a peek into their playful personalities, for example Harry Kroto (1996 Nobel winner for Chemistry) gives his sketch of Carbon C-60 molecules as a football a good kick!

ExhibitionSketches of Science: Nobel Prize laureates on display.

“Throughout history, playfulness has often been closely linked to creativity. Could it even be the case that children learn creativity through play?” Olov Amelin, Director of the Nobel Museum says in an accompanying book, “The images and the interviews give us a fantastic description of the kind of creativity that could lead all the way to a Nobel Prize.”

One of photographed Laureates, Sir Timothy Hunt, said, “Never did we expect to be challenged to illustrate our scientific discoveries in this manner! I’m glad to be part of this project where we got to show our passion for science and innovation in a lighter way.”
Tim Hunt
Sir Tim Hunt at the launch of the Sketches of Science Exhibition.

Sketches of Science is being held at the Science Centre Singapore from 17 September 2013 to 22 November 2013. Science Centre Singapore admission charges apply.

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