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Nobel laureates hope deeds will inspire science boom

Japan’s two latest Nobel laureates expressed hope Thursday their achievements will inspire younger generations to take an interest in science.

Masatoshi Koshiba, who won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics, and Koichi Tanaka, who won in chemistry, made the comments at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan during their first joint media appearance.

“Science in textbooks is not fun,” said Koshiba, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo. “But if you start doing science yourself, you will find delight.”

Koshiba mentioned a science museum for children in the United States that allows kids to participate in various experiments. He said Japanese students should be given more chances to experiment.

Koshiba said he wants to tell students, especially those in junior high school, “to have a good teacher, who does not need to be clever, but has a personality that can be loved by students,” because junior high school is an important period for determining their future.

Tanaka, an engineer at Shimadzu Corp. and the first Japanese nonacademic to win a Nobel, agreed with Koshiba, saying he was lucky to have met a teacher who stirred his curiosity in science by not expecting the class to reach the answers written in their textbooks. The teacher, he said, urged them to come up with the answers on their own.

“I have made some mistakes. No, a lot of mistakes,” Koshiba said. “If you want to develop a new thing, a lot of mistakes will be inevitable. We should be allowed to make mistakes.”

After their speeches, the two Nobel Prize winners were awarded memberships to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

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