Other Events, deaths, births, of 18 Oct
On an 18 October:
1979 The Nobel Literature Prize to “Odysseus Elytis”.         ^top^
for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness”

— El poeta griego Odysseus Lytis (1911~1996) gana el Premio Nobel de Literatura.

—     Odysseus Alepoudhélis (pseudonym Odysseus Elytis) Odysseus Elytis's name tells us a great deal about him as a person and a writer.
      Odysseus - the seafarer, the Homeric poem's hero, alive with the spirit of freedom, with defiant intrepidity, enterprise, and an insatiable appetite for all the adventures and sensuous experiences that the seas and isles of Greece can offer. Odysseus is the name given to the poet by his parents. It testifies to the feeling for the past and to the links with the myths and distinctive character of Greek tradition. The family comes from the Aegean islands. The poet was born in Crete just before the liberation from Turkish rule.
      Elytis is the name he adopted at the very beginning of his career as a writer. The name is a composite one, with allusion to several concepts dear to the poet's heart - it could be called a much abridged manifesto. The components in the name are to serve as a reminder of the Greek words for Greece (Ellas), hope (elpídha), freedom (elefthería) and the mythical woman who is the personification of beauty, erotic sensuality and female allure, Helena (Eléni). Eros and Heros are closely connected in Elytis's world of poetry or myth.
      The sea and the islands, their fauna and flora, the smooth pebbles on the beaches, the surge of the waves, the prickly black sea-urchins, the tang of salt, and the light over the water are constantly recurring elements in his writing - like the bright flood of sunlight which baptizes this world with its all-pervading lustre, at once fertile and purifying. Sensuality and light irradiate Elytis's poetry. The perceptible world is vividly present and overwhelming in its wealth of freshness and astonishing experiences.
      But through Elytis's evocative verbal art, this world is also elevated to a symbolic reality. It becomes an ideal for the world that is not always so bright and true and wonderful, but which should be, and could be. We should always praise and worship this world for what it ought to be, and for what it, thereby, can be to us: a life-giving source of strength. Elytis's extolling of existence, of man and his potentialities, and life in communion with the rest of creation, is no idealizing or illusory escapism. It is a moral act of invocation of the kind to be found so many times in Greek history, from the present-day struggles for freedom against fascist or other oppression far back through the centuries to the heroic phase of the classical era. What matters is not to submit. What matters is constantly to bear in mind what life should be, and what man can shape for himself in defiance of all that threatens to destroy him and violate him.
      This is not political writing in the narrow sense of the word. It is a writing of preparedness, which aims at defending the moral integrity or pride that is essential if we are to be able to resist at all, and to endure hardships and dangers, outrage and adversity. These sides of Elytis's poetry emerged strongly during the first years of the 1940s when he took part in the campaign in Albania against the fascist invasion. He passed through what he himself calls a crisis. Everything had to be tried out afresh - how to live, what the use of poetry was, how the beauty of poetry and art could serve in the fight for human dignity and resistance, yet preserve its freedom as art.
      The poem, Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenent of the Albanian Campaign was written during this war, most of it based on personal experience. It immediately evoked response and became a kind of generation document for the young. It has kept its position as an expression of the Greeks' indomitable spirit of resistance. The fallen soldier is a representative of the Greeks who were killed in this war, but also of all those who have fallen during Greece's long history of struggle for national liberty and individuality. Here, as so often in Elytis's writing, realistic and mythical depiction are combined.
      The Albanian campaign and the "heroic and elegiac song" about it were, in a way, a turning point for Elytis as a poet. His first verses had been published in the middle of the 1930s in a magazine which was then a forum for young writers, Nea Ghrámmata -- in fact, a school for budding poets. The impulses from French surrealism, in particular, made themselves felt - in Elytis's case, chiefly from Paul Éluard. Surrealism became a liberator. It helped the young writers to find themselves, not least, in relation to the great Greek classical tradition, which might threaten to become oppressive and to stagnate in stereotyped and rhetorical formulae. Elytis's first poems, before Heroic and Elegiac Song, are youthfully sensual, full of light, brilliant, and very evocative in their visual and charming freshness. They quickly established him as one of the leading new Greek poets.
      With Heroic and Elegiac Song, however, other sides of the writer emerged and insisted on becoming part of his creative world - sides which had been there from the outset but which now demanded more room: the tragic and the heroic. In the poetic cycle which many regard as Elytis's foremost work, To áxion estí (Worthy It Is ), these very complex experiences and programs have been given a form which makes this work one of 20th century literature's most concentrated and richly-faceted poems. The cycle is a kind of lyric drama or myth with strains from Hesiod, the Bible and Byzantine hymns. In its severe and polyphonic structure it is also linked to the avant-gardism of modern western writing. The cycle begins almost as drama of creation, concerning not only the poet himself, but, through him, us all. For, Elytis says, "I do not speak about myself. I speak for anyone who feels like myself but does not have enough naiveté to confess it." But it is also about the origin of Greece, in fact of the world. Then follows an architecturally complicated section with descriptions of the war and other scourges that have afflicted Greece and modern man. After this section, which represents a crisis or path of suffering, comes a concluding part, the actual song of praise; mature man is tempered and strengthened through his experiences but also fortified in his indomitable and defiant will to defend life and its sensuous abundance.
      In one of his short essays, Elytis sums up his intentions: "I consider poetry a source of innocence full of revolutionary forces. It is my mission to direct these forces against a world my conscience cannot accept, precisely so as to bring that world through continual metamorphoses more in harmony with my dreams. I am referring here to a contemporary kind of magic whose mechanism leads to the discovery of our true reality. It is for this reason that I believe to the point of idealism, that I am moving in a direction which has never been attempted until now. In the hope of obtaining a freedom from all constraints, and the justice which could be identified with absolute light..."
      In its combination of fresh, sensuous flexibility and strictly disciplined implacability in the face of all compulsion, Elytis's poetry give a shape to its distinctiveness,which is not only very personal but also represents the traditions of the Greek people.
Nobel lecture.
1976 The Nobel Physics Prize to Richter and Ting.         ^top^
“for their pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle of a new kind.”

— The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 1976 Nobel Prize for physics to be shared equally between Professor Burton Richter, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, USA, and Professor Samuel Chao Chung Ting, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA, for their pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle of a new kind.

Shared Physics prize for elementary particle
      The prize is awarded for discoveries in the exploration of the smallest components of matter, smaller than atoms and their nuclei. According to Einstein's well-known law of energy and mass, E=mc2, large amounts of kinetic energy are required to create a heavy particle. In addition the energy must be concentrated. The two prize experiments were made independently of one another at two of the world's largest particle accelerators. Ting and his associates have constructed their equipment in connection with the proton machine at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The accelerator is a device with a diameter of some 200 metres and the measurement equipment of the Ting team is close on 15 metres in length. Richter and his co-workers have their equipment connected to the 3 km long, linear electron accelerator at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
      The Richter equipment is of such a size that it cannot be kept indoors. When exploring small object large microscopes are necessary and cannot be avoided. For the smallest bits of matter the largest installations are required. The Richter equipment is a sort of carousel (storage ring) where a stream of electrons and a stream of positrons go round in opposite directions at very high speeds, which may be adjusted exactly. In head-on collisions, all the energy of an electron and a colliding positron may in principle give rise to a motionless very heavy particle, which is expected to turn into several other particles by decay in a very short space of time. It had not been forecast that anything like that could possibly happen other than at lower energies where the known, lighter elementary particles exist. The research programme therefore concentrated on following up in a specially built magnetic detector a very interesting and significant line initiated at Frascati, Italy, and continued at Cambridge, USA. The discovery of the new particle was sudden and dramatic, although preceded by years of planning and preparations. The speed at the head-on collisions may be adjusted to more than a thousand different values. The new particle appears at only one of these. About 10 November 1974, the Richter team set the correct speed and found that an enormous number of collisions gave the new particle, christened psi. What was most remarkable was that the psi particle was transformed unexpectedly sluggishly, or in other words, it lived about a thousand times as long as it reasonably should.
      Ting's experiment took place quite differently. High-speed protons - the direction of the firing is here more important than the speed setting - are allowed to collide with a motionless target area of beryllium. The Ting team was hoping to find new heavy particles, which are transformed into two others an electron and a positron. Ting and his associates had for many years achieved a world championship in this field, closely studying how lighter, better known parent particles give rise to electron and positron daughter pairs. From measurements of the fast-flying daughters, the properties of the parent particle may be calculated. The difficulty was sorting out a very small number of daughter pairs from a horde of millions of other particles streaming forth, in this context undesirable but unavoidable. It was like hearing a cricket close to a jumbo jet taking off. The equipment was therefore large, provide, with many refinements and embedded in tons of radiation protection. In time it became clear that a new, heavy parent particle was formed every now and then in the collisions. It was christened the J particle.
      On 11 November 1974, Richter and Ting met at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and found that the two research teams had discovered the same particle. The announcement appeared at once and the scientific publications within a week. A short time after the discovery was confirmed, first at Frascati, Italy, and then at the Deutsches Electronen Synchrotron in Hamburg, West Germany.
     Since 1960 many new elementary particles have been discovered, which show kinship with one another in groups or families. The new particle is something separate and new and it has formed the beginning of a new family of its own. A new field of research has been opened. Is there anything further in these particles, thought to be the smallest building blocks of matter? For centuries physicists and chemists have devoted much of their efforts to a search for the smallest components of matter. The limit of the smallest has slowly been moved from atoms via atomic nuclei to what are known as elementary particles. For some years now the physicists have had to move this limit downwards, and the signs are that the elementary particles, too, consist of yet smaller units, quarks. It was assumed that three quarks, in some respects having different properties, would be enough. But to understand the structure of the new psi particle a fourth quark is very likely necessary, in the opinion of many researchers.
1962 Nobel Medicine Prize to Watson, Crick, and Wilkins.         ^top^
It is announced that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will be awarded to James Dewey Watson (US, Harvard [06 April 1928~]), Francis Harry Compton Crick (UK, Institute of Molecular Biology, Cambridge [08 Jun 1916 – 28 Jul 2004]), and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins (UK, University of London, [15 Dec 1916 – 06 Oct 2004]) “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.

     When the scientist tries to disclose the physical and chemical characteristics of living matter in order to understand and to explain the great variety of living forms, he must always bear in mind this combination of generality and individuality. He can distinguish a number of general properties which are common to all living forms, for example the ability to extract nutrition from the environment and to multiply so that the offspring is given a life pattern similar to that of the parents. Thus he sees an extreme regularity. Further, when the scientist studies the physical and chemical characteristics of the organism or of its cells he discerns new signs of strict organization and internal order. But he cannot neglect noticing that each individual in one or more respects differs from other individuals of the same species. Within the framework of strong order there must be space for individual irregularities.
      The discovery of the three-dimensional molecular structure of the deoxyribonucleic acid - DNA - is of great importance because it outlines the possibilities for an understanding in its finest details of the molecular configuration, which dictates the general and individual properties of living matter. DNA is the substance which is the carrier of heredity in higher organisms.
      Deoxyribonucleic acid is a high polymer composed of a few types of building blocks, which occur in large numbers. These building blocks are a sugar, a phosphate, and nitrogen-containing chemical bases. The same sugar and the same phosphate are repeated throughout the giant molecule, but with minor exceptions there are four types of nitrogenous bases. It is for the discovery of how these building blocks are coupled together in three dimensions that this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James Dewey Watson, Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins, and Francis Harry Compton Crick.
      Wilkins investigated deoxyribonucleic acid of various biological origins by X-ray crystallographic techniques. Such techniques are the most powerful tools which can be used to investigate the molecular structure of matter. Wilkins' X-ray crystallographic recordings indicated that the very long molecular chains of deoxyribonucleic acid were arranged in the form of a double helix. Watson and Crick showed that the organic bases were paired in a specific manner in the two intertwined helices and showed the importance of this arrangement.
      The deoxyribonucleic acid molecule can also be looked upon as two interwoven spiral staircases, forming one staircase. The outside of this staircase consists of the phosphate and sugar molecules. The steps are formed by the paired bases. If it were possible to stain each base separately, that is each half-step, and if it were also possible for a person to climb this staircase, this person would get an impression of a tremendous variety. Soon he would discover, however, that red always was coupled to blue, and black to white. Also, he would notice that the steps sometimes had black to the right, and white to the left, or the reverse, and that the same variation was true also for the red-blue steps. The climber, who in molecules of human deoxyribonucleic acid had to ascend millions of steps, would see an endless variation in the sequence of red-blue, blue-red, black-white, and white-black steps. He would ask, what is the meaning of this, and he would realize that the staircase contained a kind of message, the genetic code.
      Deoxyribonucleic acid is no staircase in which one can climb; it is a very active biological substance. It has been shown that a number of the steps - most likely three - via another nucleic acid, ribonucleic acid, regulates which amino acids shall be coupled into a protein chain during its synthesis. Thus the order of amino acids in a protein is fundamentally determined by a certain sequence of bases in the nucleic acid. Thus the nucleic acid controls the production of the highly specific proteins, which are the specialized workers of the organism. All the various types of proteins produced take part in a team-work which is subordinated to the needs of the whole organism. Certain characteristics of this team-work, certain specific features in some of the proteins, make the individual unique.
      The code contained in the deoxyribonucleic acid is transferred in cell division, that is in the normal growth of the organism, and also in the fusion of the sexual cells. In this way the code of the deoxyribonucleic acid can start and control the development of a new individual which has striking similarities with its parents.
      Today no one can really ascertain the consequences of this new exact knowledge of the mechanisms of heredity. We can foresee new possibilities to conquer disease and to gain better knowledge of the interaction of heredity and environment and a greater understanding for the mechanisms of the origin of life. In whatever direction we look we see new vistas. We can, through the discovery by Crick, Watson and Wilkins, to quote John Kendrew, see «the first glimpses of a new world».
      The discovery of the molecular structure of the deoxyribonucleic acid, the substance carrying the heredity, is of utmost importance for our understanding of one of the most vital biological processes. Practically all the scientific disciplines in the life sciences have felt the great impact of the discovery of Dr. Francis Crick, Dr. James Watson, and Dr. Maurice Wilkins. The formulation of double helical structure of the deoxyribonucleic acid with the specific pairing of the organic bases, opens the most spectacular possibilities for the unravelling of the details of the control and transfer of genetic information.
Nobel Lecture of Francis Harry Compton Crick
Nobel Lecture of James Dewey Watson
Nobel Lecture of Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins
1859 Birth of the 1927 Nobel Literature laureate.
    Henri Bergson received the Nobel Prize in Literature 1927 "in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brillant skill with which they have been presented".

Prize PresentationAcceptance Speech.

Henri Bergson, filósofo y escritor francés.

     Henri Bergson (1859-1941), the son of a Jewish musician and an English woman, was educated at the Lycée Condorcet and the École Normale Supérieure, where he studied philosophy. After a teaching career as a schoolmaster in various lycées, Bergson was appointed to the École Normale Supérieure in 1898 and, from 1900 to 1921, held the chair of philosophy at the Collège de France. In 1914 he was elected to the Académie Française; from 1921 to 1926 he was president of the Commission for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations. Shortly before his death in 1941, Bergson expressed in several ways his opposition to the Vichy regime.
      Bergson's English background explains the deep influence that Spencer, Mill, and Darwin had on him during his youth, but his own philosophy is largely a reaction against their rationalist systems.
      Bergson developed his philosophy in a number of books that have become famous not only for their fresh interpretation of life but also for a powerful employment of metaphor, image, and analogy. In his Essai sur les donnes immédiates de la conscience (1889), Bergson offered an interpretation of consciousness as existing on two levels, the first to be reached by deep introspection, the second an external projection of the first. The deeper self is the seat of creative becoming and of free will.
      The method of intuitive introspection, first employed in this work, is developed further in his Introduction à la métaphysique (1903). In Matière et mémoire (1896), Bergson once again took up the study of consciousness, turning his attention to the relation of mind to body. He argued that this distinction is one of degree, not of kind. The limiting concept of matter is interpreted as a momentary mind, completely deprived of a memory that helps make possible freedom of choice.
      In L'Évolution créatice (1907), Bergson developed the theory of time introduced in his other works and applied it to the study of living things, while in Les Deux Sources de la morale et de la religion (1932), he explored the moral implications of his theory of freedom.
      In Le Rire (1900), of greatest interest to the literary critic, Bergson provided a theory of comedy and established its place in a survey of aesthetics and the philosophy of art.
      Many of Bergson's essays and reviews have been collected in L'Energie spirituelle (1919) and La Pensée et le mouvant (1934). Bergson's works were published in seven volumes in 1945-46.
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