A highlight of The Electrochemical Society’s record-breaking PRiME 2020 digital meeting was the live session honoring M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, long term ECS members and 2019 Nobel Chemistry Laureates. That same day—October 7, 2020—the Royal Swedish Academy of Science announced that Emmanuelle Charpentier (Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany) and Jennifer A. Doudna (University of California, Berkeley, US) received the 2020 Nobel Chemistry Prize “for the development of a method for genome editing.”
During the live Question & Answer session following their “Legends of Battery Science: A Celebration with M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino” presentations, Yoshino and Whittingham were asked what advice they had for the newest Nobel Chemistry laureates. The two pioneers of the lithium ion battery congratulated the discoverers of the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.
“What I felt most since receiving the Nobel Prize is that every one of my words now has a great impact on people. This is true of government officers, academic societies, and also industry leaders. But I felt it especially for children. The Nobel Prize is a big dream for children. After receiving the prize, I gave many lectures to school students in Japan. I was gratified that students listened to my words with their eyes shining. They saw the very great joy of receiving the award. So to this year’s laureates, I say, please give children dreams,” said Yoshino.
Whittingham reflected on the impact of the current global pandemic on the Nobel ceremony. “It’s difficult for us to give them advice because Akira and I had this great experience in Stockholm and after. (I am) not sure there will be a Stockholm experience this year, so their life will be very different from ours. But ours is something we will never forget—from the moment we got on the plane in New York, to when we got back home, and everything that’s happened since. I am not sure how they are going to do anything this year; it is going to be very difficult.”
Whittingham and Yoshino’s “Legends of Battery Science: A Celebration with M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino” talks are available to view, free of charge, until November 9, along with all PRiME 2020 symposia. To access the content, one must register. Presentations by Maria Forsyth (Deakin University), “Future Electrolyte Systems for Safer, High Energy Density Batteries,” and Jun Liu (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), “Leading the Path for Energy Storage,” were also part of the event. The third scientist to share the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, John Goodenough—also a long term ECS member—was not able to participate in the PRiME event.