The Genius of Collaboration

Greetings.  It's Nobel Prize season and recently announced awards for physics and chemistry have a lot to teach us about genius, innovation, and collaboration. Let's start with the 2010 physics prize which was awarded to two Russian-born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, for their groundbreaking work with a new and ultra-thin form of carbon called graphene.  This material, thought to be the thinnest and strongest ever discovered, is almost completely transparent but so dense that nothing can pass through it.  It's also an excellent conductor of electricity which suggests the real possibility of revolutionizing not only the world of electronics but also the materials used to make airplanes, satellites, and even automobiles.  And in an amusing twist, they used a simple piece of scotch tape to isolate a flake of carbon that was only one atom thick.  Their collaboration began in the Netherlands and continued in the United Kingdom where the two are now professors at the University of Manchester.    

The 2010 chemistry prize was shared by American Richard Heck of the University of Delaware and two Japanese colleagues Ei-ichi Negishi, at Purdue University, and Akira Suzuki at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, for their important work in the development of "palladium-catalyzed cross coupling."  This chemical "tool" has the potential to enable scientists to bind carbon atoms together in order to create far more complex chemicals that can aid in the research and production of new and better pharmaceuticals.  And, it might also be valuable in building molecules used in electronics.

Both of these awards speak to the genius of collaboration, the value of unlocking and connecting a world full of smart and inquisitive people, and the potential of science to improve the quality of life.

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We win in science, business, and life when we discover the power of collaboration.  And when we work together with colleagues from near and far to push the limits of knowledge and possibilities.


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