Sergio Rossi studies the semantics of chemistry | Nobel Prize Winners in Lindau | DW | 08.07.2013
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Nobel Prize Winners in Lindau

Sergio Rossi studies the semantics of chemistry

If you had to explain your research topic to your grandmother or your little sister, how would you do it?
I am trying to develop a process to develop molecules. We try to make small molecules that make a reaction more easy. We try to make only a particular type of molecule. Usually I use hands to explain this, because every hand is similar – each has five fingers for example, but they are different, mirror images of one another. So I always say that I just want to make the one particular hand, not the other mirror-image one.

In your research motivation, you compared chemistry to a language. And sometimes it is really difficult to learn a foreign language. What is the difficulty in learning chemistry?
Basically chemistry is the science of molecules. Everything we use in our life is made of molecules. The goal of chemistry is to find out how to read this material, the molecules as words, to find the common language that is behind it all.

If everything is written in the same language, where does the diversity come from?
Though everything is written in the same language, it’s about the sentence that the words are forming, which emotion you would like to express. You use the same words, but in a different context. It’s the same when you read a book. It won’t be very entertaining to read a dictionary, but it is really fascinating to read a well written story. And the latter is chemistry.

While studying chemistry, what did you learn about yourself?
You need to be patient. You need to find a way to think. Sometimes you have to not sleep to find a solution. At the end with patience and the ability to keep calm, without emotion, you find the result you want to have.

What is the one thing you would like to find out before the end of your scientific career?
I promised my grandmother that I will find something that could be useful for other people. I don’t know yet in which field I will find something, but it should be something that improves their lives.

What is science in your mother language?

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