Israeli professor Dan Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in Stockholm on Saturday, and said that scientists have many duties, including keeping an eye on politicians.
"In the real world, politicians decide for us, but we must always watch over them," Shechtman said during his acceptance speech.
Shechtman, a professor at Haifa’s Technion Institute, received the prize, valued at approximately one million Euros for cutting-edge work he did during the 1980s in the field of crystallography (the study of crystals). The prize was given for his discovery of atom patterns called quasicrystals, chemical structures previously thought impossible.
"It is our duty as scientists to promote education, rational thinking and tolerance," Shechtman urged.
"Science is the ultimate tool to reveal the laws of nature and the one word written on its banner is 'truth'," he said. "The laws of nature are neither good nor bad. It is the way in which we apply them to our world that makes the difference."
Up until Shechtman's discovery, scientists had thought the atom patterns inside crystals had to repeat themselves. The Academy said Shechtman's discovery in 1982 fundamentally changed the way chemists look at solid matter.
Shechtman studied aluminum alloys, and found that they didn’t behave in a way solid matter had previously been thought behave. As a result he discovered a completely new class of solids.
Israel has an impressive showing when it comes to Nobel winners, with 10 laureates in its 63-year history. Most recently, Israeli scientist Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute also won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009, for her work on the ribosomes.
Shechtman also won the Israel Prize in physics in 1998.
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