In rare moments, I feel flying high in the sky for achieving something I am proud of. There is a euphoria in creating something that give a humble feeling of satisfaction. For me, I must know only a femto fraction of the feeling that is reflected on Dr. Ahmed Zewail face when he created something that has never existed before in human history, or shall I say the world’s history.
In 1999, Dr. Ahmed Zewail was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering developments in femtoscience, which made it possible to observe atoms in motion.
Recently, he built on his work in femtoscience to develop a (4D) ultrafast electron microscope. To simplify things here – as I understand it -: Before such development, we only could take still pictures of human cells. That was good to diagnose whether a cell is healthy or not, but it wasn’t possible to track the movements of proteins – for instance – and moniter the behaviour of different molecules so that to find out what causes each particle to behave in a such way. The 4D microscope, and for the first time in human history, allows us to take video shots of what goes inside human cells. It is a breakthrough in science, one that opens the door for many many discoveries. It is like a door that is opened, and now we can peek in and figure out what has been going on.
One of the very interesting things Dr. Ahmed Zewail mentioned in the episode, is how Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel Corporation, donated 600 million dollar to Caltech and specified that the money should only be utilized to support innovative unconventional research that can find difficulties in securing any governmental funding. It is really amazing learning about the dedication of such people to science and humanity. Dr. Ahmed Zewail approached Gordon Moore and asked him for 20 million dollar to fund his research. Today, we have the 4D miscroscope!
Ofcourse part of the episode focused on highlighting the Egyptian origins of Dr. Ahmed Zewail and what does it mean to him working in America while declaring his origins proudly. It is something people would want to hear and reflect a kind of inferiority complex that the Arab nations carry towards the West in general. In truth, and while we, as a nation, would always be able to produce up-notch scientific individuals like Dr. Zewail, the reality of our scientific research and development situation is embarrassing at most.
I just hope for a day when the universities in the Arab world carry part of the human discoveries and contributes to the advancements of the human nations. When did science stopped to matter to us?