IG NOBEL UPDATE -- Bonjour from Benveniste


Bonjour from Benveniste

Jacques Benveniste, the only person who has been awarded two (2) Ig Nobel Prizes, kindly sent us an email message. (Benveniste won both his prizes in the field of chemistry -- in 1991 for discovering that water has the ability to remember things, and in 1998 for extending that discovery in ingenious ways.)

Benveniste’s message to us was a copy of one he sent to a student in Japan. The student had written to him asking for advice.

Benveniste accompanied his reply with a digitized copy of Nature magazine’s report, published on October 8, 1998, about his winning the second Ig Nobel Prize.

Here is a copy of Benveniste’s message, which includes the original inquiry from the student. Benveniste’s words are in boldface lettering:

Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 12:09:41 +0100
To: shinya@h01.mbox.media.kyoto-u.ac.jp
From: Jacques Benveniste <jbenveniste@digibio.com>
Subject: Re: Requset for the IgNobel Prize winner
Cc: marca@chem2.harvard.edu
At 15:04 23/11/02 +0900, you wrote:

Shinya Masahiro 19/m/kyoto
University of Kyoto, faculty of integrated human studies, sophomore

Dear Dr. Benveniste

This is Shinya Masahiro, undergraduate student at Kyoto University in Japan. I am very interested in how sciences entertain people and are studying it in class called “Searching for the Integrated Human Studies” (prof:Oda Shingo). On our project for this class, my group focused on the Ig Nobel Prize because we think it makes sciences closer to us. Therefore it would be extremely helpful if you could take some time to answer our questions.

Science has been or is an ivory tower that has no contact with the world, and the scientists in the tower are haughty and satisfy with themselves. On the other hand, people tend to regard science as something difficult and therefore they are not interested. I think this is quite an undesirable situation. As you know, we have made progress with science, and I think we will in the future, so it’s very important that people and science are close to each other.

I have heared that you have won the Ig Nobel Prize as chemistry in 1998.

We would like to ask you to answer our questions. We are currently interested in to what purpose men are doing their studies. In order to enrich our ideas we would like to ask you these questions listed below, and I appreciate if you can answer in this month.


  1. Why did you work hard on things that seemed useless to most people?

    Because this is exactly the definition of scientific research.

    (Why did you work hard for such an intersting and seemingly demandless thing?)

    I don't understand the question. This work is utterly interesting and very demandful given the absolute standstill of science nowadays.

  2. Have you ever felt empty without getting any praise from the general society?

    The only days I felt empty is when the results were not showing. A rare event.

    If you have, how did you overcome the emptiness?

    When results kept next morning. This is the definition of scientific research. If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

    ~ Albert Einstein

  3. How did you get your money to continue your study?

    Private companies, business angels, love money.

    And what kind of persons helped your study?

    Scientists, entrepreneurs with open minded spirit, a very rare species.

  4. W hat do you think about how studies should be?

    You mean scientific research? Certainly not the way the so called ig(ignorant)-nobel jury, a bunch of scientific vigilantes, self-appointed talibans of science, obscurantists whose mottos is “understand I do not, therefore it is not,” are operating. These people, that have been present all along the history of mankind to fight progress are the modern counterpart of the Great Inquisition. They are not at all willing to bring science closer to the people, but the exact contrary. They say “we, and only we, know where science should go. Al others shut up, otherwise they will be put at the pillory.”

    Do you think your study should contribute to the society?

    See www.digibio.com

    We would like to thank you in advance for your help.

    You are welcome. Check your typos ;-).

    Sincerely yours, Shinya Masahiro

Dr. Jacques Benveniste, AIHP, ACCP, Dir. de recherche Inserm. Directeur,
Laboratoire de Biologie Numérique
Jacques Benveniste MD, Head, Digital Biology Laboratory
32, rue des Carnets, F-92140 Clamart

Tel : +33 (0)1 46 01 58 40
Fax : +33 (0)1 46 31 02 77
Mobile : +33(0)6 09 68 25 01

See http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4152521,00.htm and http://www.weirdtech.com/sci/expe.html

“Quand le fait qu'on rencontre ne s'accorde pas avec une théorie régnante il faut accepter le fait et abandonner la théorie.”

“When a new fact does not fit with the reigning theory, one must accept the fact and drop the theory".

~ Claude Bernard ~

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