Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry, Daniel Shechtman was lambasted a ‘quasi-scientist’ by some of the most respected scientists in his field. The mean-spirited turn of phrase came from his discovery of quasicrystals structures, which are now commonly taught as part of a standard chemistry curriculum. “Young scientists” says Shechtman, “should become so thoroughly versed in their field that even if the biggest names around belittle or insult their work, they have the confidence to see it through.”
What’s the Big Idea?
What other advice do Nobel Prize winners have to offer budding scientists? Don’t ask small questions, says Bruce Beutler, winner of the 2011 Nobel in medicine: “Don’t be conservative and timid. Don’t set out to make incremental advances. Do something very important. Choose a problem that you’d be very proud to solve.” And of course, there is no substitute for hard work. Beutler wouldn’t let a weekend go by when he was working on an important project, which was almost always, he says.