An exciting Nobel Week!

It’s almost sure that by now you have heard about the great minds that were honored with the Nobel Prize this year… Being in the country where it is awarded, I was happy to find out that for Swedes, “Nobel Prize” does not only ring the bell of reading the results in the newspaper. There are a couple more things happening this week, of which the public can take part. On one hand, there is the Nobel NightCap, a relaxed celebration where laureates, Swedish royalty, scientists and students from all over the country have an unforgettable after-party (what does a Nobel laureate have in common with a barbeque and a submarine?). It is organized by students, and offers other students the chance to attend through a lottery. To many, the NightCap is highlight of the week: since journalists are not allowed in the occasion, whatever happens in the NightCap, stays in the Nightcap.

But before the (possibly?) wild partying with Nobel laureates, there is another event arranged to shift your paradigms and stimulate your visions of the future. That is the Nobel Week Dialogue, which has laureates, world class scientists and leaders congregating to discuss a topic that is chosen each year. Everyone can attend free of charge, earning the opportunity to influence the discussions that go on during the day. This year the Dialogue was held in Stockholm with the most interesting subject, “The Age to Come – New scientific and cultural perspectives on ageing”. Since I managed to attend, I thought I could chronicle my adventure for you!

Nobel chocolate. Hopefully an intelligence-confering sweet?

Nobel chocolate. Hopefully an intelligence-enhancing sweet

This year, several students from Gothenburg University and Chalmers were invited to attend to the Dialogue, starting the trip well before sunrise with a bus departure at 3:45 am. After a 5 hour nap we found ourselves in the venue, fresh and excited for what the day would bring. The event began with three introductory talks that set the ground for the first panel of the day, Implications of an Older World. The morning continued with seminar and panels, which ranged from learning that Nobel Laureates and Oscar Winners live longer, to the live try-out of a suit that recreates common aging ailments as short sight and arthritis.

The afternoon brought the most intense part for me, since I participated as a student moderator during one of the parallel sessions. This meant that I got to deliver questions from the online audience to the panel that sat 3 meters across from me. The task was challenging, due to all the information processing, but so much more honoring, as I was able to communicate with leading experts in the subject. It is a wonderful thing to give students this opportunity… and who knows, maybe it’s you next year!

So close!

So close!

With Craig Mello, awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2006

With Craig Mello, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2006

The dessert of the day was a final panel with six Nobel laureates; “A critical mass of knowledge” as moderator Adam Smith would define it. With their expertise and characteristic humor, Elizabeth Blackburn, Eric Maskin, Daniel McFadden, Aaron Ciechanover, Craig Mello and Eric Kandel gave their views on what the future brings for an ageing population. I learned so much during the day that it would be either too long or impossible to write down all the new knowledge imparted by the participants. If you want to get your own overview, I highly recommend watching the keynotes here and to look for #nobeldialogue hashtag on Twitter. You can find the funniest, eye-opening comments of the day  there!

6 Nobel laureates sitting on the stage

6 Nobel laureates sitting on the stage

My aged-up face according to a simulator in the venue

Hope to see you in Nobel Dialogue next year!