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After-dinner Nobel banquet speech


In the shadow of Isaac Bashevis Singer
Eric Kandel Scientist
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Then in the evening there's a wonderful banquet, and after the banquet there's a dance. Okay? So we had taken waltzing lessons to brush up on our waltz, and the banquet itself was very pleasant. We had some very nice wine. And I was asked to speak on behalf of Arvid and Paul about this. And before you give your two-minute talk, the people who give those two-minute talks are shown a prototype of a good two-minute talk. And the talk they showed us was by Issac Singer, a Jewish writer who writes in Yiddish. And he says, 'You know, I write in Yiddish. And people say, we don't understand you, why do you do this? This is a dead language, why would you write in a dead language?' He said, 'Those people, they simply don't understand. They don't understand. Most of the people in the world are dead. Someday they're going to rise up and they're going to say, “Nu, what's to read?”'

So I knew I couldn't possibly top that. But you know, my talk was not humorous, but it was interesting. May I read it?

[Q] Sure.

Eric Kandel (b. 1929) is an American neuropsychiatrist. He was a recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shared the prize with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard. Kandel, who had studied psychoanalysis, wanted to understand how memory works. His mentor, Harry Grundfest, said, 'If you want to understand the brain you're going to have to take a reductionist approach, one cell at a time.' Kandel then studied the neural system of the sea slug Aplysia californica, which has large nerve cells amenable to experimental manipulation and is a member of the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning. Kandel is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also Senior Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, which is now the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. Kandel's popularized account chronicling his life and research, 'In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind', was awarded the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Science and Technology.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Isaac Bashevis Singer

Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2015

Date story went live: 04 May 2016