hen you're old and retired you're afforded a new kind of freedom. The freedom to give no more f*cks. When you're the best in the world at what you do, you also have that freedom. Same goes if you're smarter than everyone else. Jacques Dubochet is a lucky man because he falls into all three categories. His official curriculum vitae listed on the University of Lausanne's website demonstrates this freedom, and his terrific sense of humor.
Meet Jacques Dubochet, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
He’s better than any chemistry teacher you ever had. In all ways. He’s smarter, nicer, and a hell of a lot funnier. Dubochet earned the esteemed prize for his work developing cryo-electron microscopy along with joint winners Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson.
Cryo-electron what now? Dubochet's joint winner Frank explains in this video, and you still won't know.
Frank is probably a very nice man. And he’s certainly a super smart scientist. Our favorite part of this clip of the two men reacting to their Nobel win isn’t Frank’s explanation of what structural biology is, but Dubochet’s bit about collaboration versus competition.
Dubochet's stance on this sets him apart in his field.
In the world of science and research, unfortunately, competition is king. Huge monetary rewards await the next great breakthrough in biological or medical research. Competition leads to secrecy rather than openly sharing ideas and information, because the people funding the research are driven not primarily by the quest for answers, but the quest for patents.
But Dubochet’s love of science isn’t driven by personal gain and instead just his pure, insatiable quest for knowledge.
Here's another partial explanation of cryo-electron microscopy. You still won't understand it necessarily, but you can see that Dubochet loves it.
To speak of the study of molecular structures so beautifully speaks to his passion for his work. This is a serious man, doing serious science, and he loves it. He also has a less serious side. A pretty big one.
He's won the Nobel Prize now, and is at the very top of his field.
His lifetime of scientific work is beyond reproach. The 76-year-old chemist is not seeking employment, admission, or approval. He’s beyond those petty cares. Time for some silliness.