Albert Claude (1975) - The Coming Age of the Cell

Albert Claude (1975)

The Coming Age of the Cell

Albert Claude (1975)

The Coming Age of the Cell

Comment

Albert Claude lectured only once at the Lindau Meetings, already the
year after receiving his Nobel Prize. As some other Nobel Laureates in a similar position, after an introduction, he choose to read the text of the Nobel lecture that he had delivered in Stockholm the year before. This is a very unusual and personal Nobel lecture and from a formal point of view constitutes a kind of breach with the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation. These state “It shall be incumbent on a prizewinner…to give a lecture on a subject relevant to the work for which the prize has been awarded”. The idea is partly that the members of the Prize-Awarding Institutions should hear “from the horse’s mouth” how the prize-awarded work came about. But already from the very first Nobel Prize, this rule has been broken. The 1901 Nobel Laureate Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, e.g., never delivered his lecture. Since he also burned all his papers before he died, no one really knows what happened in his laboratory when he discovered X-rays! In 1923, Albert Einstein choose to speak about the gerenal theory of relativity and not about the cited photo-electric effect. In 1974, Albert Claude read a short poetic text which discusses the impact of discoveries in cell biology during the preceding fifty years and at the same time brings in some personal memories from his life as scientist. Today, this text would probably fit better as part of the autobiography that the Nobel Foundation asks the Laureates to write. In Lindau, the contents of the lecture probably came as a surprise to the students and young researchers in the audience, but for many of them probably as a pleasant surprise!

Anders Bárány

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