Michael Nobel: "It is possible to experience this only in Ukraine ..!"

Michael Nobel: "It is possible to experience this only in Ukraine ..!"He is the great-grandson of Ludvig Nobel, the founder of the second largest oil company in the world, who was the brother of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, the founder of the most prestigious award in the world.

After having completed his education in Sweden and in the United States, Michael was a professor at the University of Lausanne where he received a Doctorate in the field of psycho-pedagogy. Then, he has been working for seven years as a researcher in the field of social sciences at the Institute of Mass Communication at the University of Lausanne, as well as in the Department of Social Psychiatry Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine. He was also a consultant to UNESCO in Paris and Geneva United Nations’ Division for Social Welfare in the field of drug prevention.

For 15 years he has been the Nobel family’s representative as the Vice chairman and then the Chairman of its board of directors. Currently he is the Head of the Nobel Foundation for sustainable development in Switzerland.

As European Vice president of Fonar corporation, in 1981 D.Nobel took part in the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). From 1991 to 2007 he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of MRAB Group—the company providing MRI services for Swedish hospitals. Currently, Dr. Nobel is Chairman or board member of six international companies in the field of medical diagnosis, treatment and information systems.

Dr. Nobel holds the title of Distinguished Professor of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the field of science and technology of the University of Osaka, as well as a visiting professor of the other two universities in Japan. He regularly performs with lectures at the international conferences all around the world.

Michael Nobel is a member of several prize committees. For his work in the fields of medicine and conflict resolution he has received many recognitions and awards from numerous organizations. Among them we can list 10 honorary doctorates and professorships from the universities and more than a dozen international awards.

Last week, Michael Nobel visited Ukraine. The program of his stay was extremely busy. In addition to cognitive accents (the tour in Kiev to visit Pechersk Lavra, the Assumption Cathedral and the National Opera of Ukraine), the program of professor’s visit included meetings with the mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko, with His Holiness the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate Filaret.

His lecture at the Kiev National University named after Taras Shevchenko, "The Nobel Dynasty. Scientific interest of Professor Nobel Magnetic resonance imaging. The problem of peace" attracted particular attention. His meeting with students and professors of the Scientific—Research Institute of Nanotechnology Industry and Human Development University "Ukraine " rappresented another milestone of the visit.

Well, the final chord of Professor Nobel’s stay in our country was a more than a two-hour’s chat with Levko Lukyanenko, Dmitri D.Pavlychko, Vladimir Yavorivsky, and the other representatives of the intellectual elite of Ukraine.
Michael Nobel: "It is possible to experience this only in Ukraine ..!"

In his busy schedule, Professor Michael Nobel managed to find time for an exclusive interview with "Vector News."

What are the five words you would use for describing your impressions about Ukraine and Kiev in particular?

The first thing which I noticed is a warm hospitality. The second thing which struck me is the city itself: churches, cathedrals, Kiev Opera House ... something similar to Vienna. The third point to be underlined is that all people are very politicized: everybody is talking about politics, corruption, government, war with Russia, Putin ... The fourth is a great warmth with which many speak about Ukraine's ties with Sweden. And the fifth, of course, is your beautiful women. I've heard a lot about them, but due to the workload of the program I have not seen them too much, but I think that I will be luckier in this respect in the future. (Laughs).

Your visit to Kiev took place in the days associated with the tragic events in the history of our country: the shooting of the "Heavenly hundred", the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine ...

I was driving in a car along Institutska street, Maidan ... And I was greatly impressed by what I saw. For obvious reasons I could not participate in the events held in Kiev in connection with the mournful dates. But I have seen lots of people with candles ... And this, once again, is very impressive.

I must say that I already have a similar experience. I have been to places where people have experienced something similar. I was in Turkey, South America, but nowhere have I seen that people are so involved in the events which they continue to live inside them and empathize. This I have experienced only in Ukraine.

Due to the politicization of Ukrainian society, which you mentioned. Do you— as a European, a Swede living in America—have a feeling that both Europe and the United States, who provide a huge support to Ukraine, get tired of it, get tired of its inability to perform all the necessary reforms quickly and clearly? Do the US and Europe continue to believe in Ukraine?

In the US, the problem of Ukraine is not on the agenda. Your country – even if it might sound sad for you—is not a major problem for the Americans. Most of them do not even know where your country is situated: whether it is in Europe or somewhere near Japan. They do not care about it.

But Sweden is really worried about Ukrainian issue. After all, the Swedes have long believed the Soviet Union to be an enemy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Swedes have decided that the Russians are now their friends. And now it turns out they were wrong. We, Swedes, are concerned about a possible new escalation of the conflict in Donbas region. Even if Sweden and Ukraine are not the NATO members, we feel that we are all part of the big European family. But this is my personal opinion as a person and as a citizen.

Knowing your devoted involvement in research process and various educational programs around the world, may I ask you how you would describe their state in Ukraine?

I do not have much experience of this in Ukraine in particular, but what I want to say is that recently I had the honor to receive the title of professor of Alfred Nobel University in Dnepropetrovsk. This educational institution is only 10 years old. And there is, for example, the University of Uppsala, which counts more than 500 years. But this does not mean that Dnepropetrovsk University is bad and Uppsala’s university is good simply because it is old. No. New trends in education are always good. During his visit, I had the opportunity to visit the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. This is a classic, old educational school. And, in my opinion, such a combination of the classic old and the new and modern is really very promising.

Separately, I would like to say such a new trend as teaching online. It expands the opportunities for students of all countries. For example, Harvard offers a variety of online courses that can be viewed on TV at home. This makes education more accessible and cheaper.

But at the same time, I would like to say that if the Ukraine (and its students) want greater integration in Europe and its universities, then you just need to deepen the knowledge of the English language. I made this conclusion during my lecture at the University of Taras Shevchenko.

Listening to me, about 50 percent of the students used the simultaneous translation. I think that this situation should be corrected. It is necessary for the students to free themselves not only to communicate but also to use English in teaching process.

German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish and many other languages—all languages are very good. But it is English, which is the language of science. I have been teaching in Japan and China, and I always do it in English...

Is it true that a few years ago you were going to announce the establishment of "a new award from the Nobel family", which was supposed to be given for the solution of some kind of "global problem", as it was predicted—in the field of nanotechnology or energy. At the same time, you said that the most important problem to be solved by mankind is a depletion of natural resources, including hydrocarbon. What is the fate of this award?

This story has a complex fate. The newspaper "New York Times" misquoted my words. Nobel Foundation did not plan and does not intend to establish a new Nobel Prize in addition to the one already existing. The Nobel Prize is a classic premium, which has a long history. And our award founded by our foundation, has nothing to do with it. We, Nobel family, do not even use the Nobel name in its title. Our prize is awarded to companies and young scientists (in the form of scholarships), which have been successful in the field of energy conservation and the development of environmentally friendly technologies.

But Nobel family has an impact on the definition of the winners of the classic Nobel Prize?

Absolutely no. I have been working for 20 years in the field of magnetic resonance imaging. And inventions in this field received the award, if my memory serves me right, thrice. So, among them there was no one of the inventors. Neither Nobel Foundation, nor our Nobel Family Fund, consisting of five members, has no influence on the selection of nominees and winners. The Nobel committee deals with these issues. The fund is only concerned with the financial side of the issue.

Then a very simple question. Aren’t the members of Nobel family offended because of this situation?

No. Take, for example, the Nobel Peace Prize. In order to decide who becomes the winner, you need nine months. Last year there were 276 candidates for it. And how do you choose from them? In my opinion, for the award itself it is very prestigious that Nobel family has no influence on it. Moreover, our family has no influence on the process of winners’ determination for the award I was talking about—in the field of energy conservation and the development of environmentally friendly technologies. The family provides only finances and administration of the process. The candidates and winners are determined by the Royal College of Technology. Of course, I have my favorites, but I do not tell about them to anyone.

When was the last time you were at the ceremony of awarding the Nobel Prize?

My father went to the ceremony 40 years in a row. This is already a family tradition. I've been on it 15 times. My wife is tired of it (laughs). So last year I went to the ceremony with my daughter...
Michael Nobel: "It is possible to experience this only in Ukraine ..!"

Interview by Konstantin Nikolaev

Translated by Maria Kryzhanovska
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