Building Bridges

I like the way that Ahmed Zewail has answered the question of what it takes to get a Nobel Prize in his essay published in Nature. It is worthy of a good read regardless of what role in society you have with respect to research. At the end of the day, we all benefit from research, be that research in the natural sciences, be it in the humanities or the social sciences.

If you have the time, do read Ahmed Zewail’s recommendations about research and discovery. I would like to invite those in legal research to try to translate his recommendations to the field of legal research. Curiosity is what drives research, and it is the quest for new knowledge that drives innovation.


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Let me translate

José Saramago has now completed his work on earth (1922-2010). Fundacao Jose Saramago gives details of the funeral arrangements (in Portuguese) on its website.  I do wonder who wrote this piece in his blog dated today and that cites his words from an interview in 2008.

Outros Cadernos de Saramago: “Acho que na sociedade actual nos falta filosofia. Filosofia como espaço, lugar, método de refexão, que pode não ter um objectivo determinado, como a ciência, que avança para satisfazer objectivos. Falta-nos reflexão, pensar, precisamos do trabalho de pensar, e parece-me que, sem ideias, nao vamos a parte nenhuma.”

“I think that contemporary society lacks philosophy. Philosophy as space, place, method for reflection which may not have a predetermined objective such as science, but that advances in order to satisfy objectives. We need reflection, thought, we need thought’s work. In my view, without ideas, we will not go anywhere.” (1)

I have never been a fan of Saramago the man, but his work, that is on a different page. In my view, one can separate the man from the work. The man is that mortal part that eventually disappears, and the work is what remains. He was an annoying man, arrogant and with political ideas that I do not share, but he could think and he could write. A word of caution here is that I have seen some very bad translations of his work, but if you can, do read him in his original Portuguese, or find a good translation. German readers may find a few hints here.

It turns out that most thought occurs while writing, and some occurs in conversation. Inspiring ideas occur in sleep, under the shower or while playing. Thought is a solitary pursuit. I was exposed to Portuguese literature early in life and while the language is to me as difficult as any other language, it has a particular vernacular beauty that is all its own, and that for the life of me, I find very difficult to translate.

Saramago is right in my view in affirming that without ideas, we will not go anywhere. It is a good starting point. May Saramago rest in peace now that his work is complete.

(1) Translated by the author of this post.


I think the good man has some strange ideas, but he does write beautifully! But it could be that I am totally biased. He has the same first name of one of my grandfathers, and I loved both of my grandfathers although they were a bit like night and day. One was very quiet and calm, the other was pensive and reflective, but quiet, or calm will never really describe him. Very much to my mother’s chagrin I have a lot of the latter’ character traits. Come to think of it, it would do me good to adopt a few more!