25 February 2015: Yale-NUS welcomed two Nobel Laureates in early 2015

Written by Jacqueline Su | Images as credited

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Professor Brian Schmidt delivering his talk as part of the 5th ASEAN Bridges event. Image provided by NUS.

In early 2015, two Nobel Laureates visited Yale-NUS as part of the 5th ASEAN Bridges event. This series of talks, organised by the International Peace Foundation (IPF), aim to create an independent platform for dialogue and humanitarian support to encourage better cooperation for the promotion of peace, freedom and security.

Professor Brian Schmidt, 2011 Nobel Laureate for Physics at the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, 2005 Nobel Laureate for Peace, spoke at NUS and visited students at Yale-NUS during their time in Singapore.

Professor Schmidt and his team won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of an accelerating universe. On 21 January 2015 at the NUS Shaw Foundation Alumni House, he discussed the development and role of science in the modern world during his talk titled, “Science: Humanity’s universal bridge”.

“Science could provide the means to prosperity,” Professor Schmidt said during the talk, “but only if humanity is willing to share the world, the technology, and the affluence that each person on Earth wants for their own.”

He added, “I’m not naïve enough to say everything is going to work via science.”

Professor Charles Bailyn, Dean of Faculty at Yale-NUS College, joined Dr Schmidt for the question-and-answer segment, where they discussed international scientific collaborations, climate change and the biggest challenges facing the world in the 21st century.

On 11 February 2015, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, the 2005 Nobel Laureate for Peace and former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 to 2009, gave a talk titled, ‘Global Equity and Security: Towards a Peaceful and Human World’. Speaking about the need for international security and a global understanding of humanity, he also discussed the global dangers that are no longer confined to borders, and issues including nuclear armament, poverty, and climate change.

He noted, “Equity, compassion, and above all, human solidarity, should be our compass… We need to think differently, and act differently.”

Dean’s Fellow Samson Berhane said, “He’s an advocate for humanity. Listening to Dr ElBaradei provided perspectives on the effects of poverty and religious extremism with reference to the threat of nuclear war. This was something I never considered before.”

At the end of the talk, both Dr ElBaradei and Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in NUS, took questions from the audience about nuclear proliferation and solutions to the issues at hand.

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Dr Mohamed ElBaradei met with Yale-NUS students during his trip. Image by Werkz Photography for Yale-NUS.

The first ASEAN Bridges programme took place in 2003 and has since featured 42 Nobel Laureates and 20 other keynote speakers and artists. Mr Uwe Morawetz, the founding chairman of the IPF said, “The aim of Bridges is to facilitate and strengthen dialogue and communication between the scientists in Southeast Asia with their multiple cultures and faith, as well as other people in other parts of the world, to promote understanding and trust.”

The Bridges programme concludes in March 2015 with a visit to Singapore by Professor Ada Yonath, the 2009 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry.