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Sejarah Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

on Kamis, 15 September 2011

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi was born in Budapest in 1893. Throughout his distinguished career he was awarded numerous scientific accolades including the Nobel Prize in 1937 for his discovery of vitamin C.
Horizon interviewed Szent-Gyorgyi in 1965 when he was 72. He died in 1986 at the age of 92.

Getting into science

Getting into science

Albert Szent Gyorgyi explains his unconventional entry into science.
Video transcript
As a youngster I was very dull and my family was very worried thinking that I was an idiot and I started developing rather late and my uncle who dominated my family and was a well-known scientist objected most vigorously when I told him I wanted to go into science and then later he softened and consented that I should go into cosmetics.
Ah, and then when I made more progress he consented that I become a dentist. And then even he had a very high opinion of me he said I could become a proctologist - he had haemorrhoids and was interested in that part of the body especially. So when I entered university and started research I started research on the structure of the anus and I feel now that I started science on the wrong end actually.
World War I

World War I

Disillusioned by the war, Szent-Gyorgyi took extreme measures in order to return to his scientific studies.
Video transcript
Two years after the beginning of the war I could see that our case was lost - and we are just sacrificed senselessly by a little clique surrounding the old emperor and I had a burning desire to go back to science and intellectual work and I saw no reason to sacrifice my life for nothing so one day in the field I took my gun and shot through the bone.
The great difficulty was not the danger - because if they noticed what you did you were hanged immediately - but to overcome my own inhibitions which told me I must be faithful to the Emperor and to the King and not to do that. But I had such a burning desire that I did it and went back to the University where I could finish my medical studies and finish my research work.
Secrets of Nature

Secrets of Nature

Szent-Gyorgyi wanted to discover what he called the 'ultimate secrets of nature'. Here he describes his attempts at this.
Video transcript
I started with anatomy then shifted to function, to physiology and studied rabbits. But then I found rabbits too complicated and shifted to bacteriology hoping to find the secrets of life in those very small, tiny creatures. But later I found bacteria too complicated and shifted to molecules and began to study chemistry and a few years after the war I was even condemned to be the Professor of Chemistry and taught chemistry for many years.
About 15 years ago I found molecules too complex and then I shifted to electrons, what they call quantum mechanics - the behaviour of electrons. So I went through the whole gamete of organisation which was a vain effort so to say, because in the end I ended with electrons which have no life at all - molecules have no life - so life ran out between my fingers actually while I was studying it, trying to find it. But I don't think it was in vain because to understand life one must understand electrons too - and molecules and cells and even whole animals or people.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi was born in Budapest in 1893. Throughout his distinguished career he was awarded numerous scientific accolades including the Nobel Prize in 1937 for his discovery of vitamin C.
Horizon interviewed Szent-Gyorgyi in 1965 when he was 72. He died in 1986 at the age of 92.
Vitamin C

Vitamin C

Szent-Gyorgyi discovered ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C. Here he explains how it was very nearly named something else.
Video transcript
Then I knew very little about chemical structure - I knew only that it was a sugar and we chemists design a sugar only by putting Os on the end and Ignos means I don't know so I called it Ig Noos but the editor of the biochemical journal was a very serious gentleman he didn't like joking so he refused this paper so I proposed God Noos which he liked even less. But after all he accepted the paper and today the substance is known as ascorbic acid.
Muscles

Muscles

Szent-Gyorgyi was fascinated by the function of muscles. He hoped that muscle research could help him understand life.
Video transcript
SZENT-GYORGYI:
In research, one of the great difficulties is to find out what do do with yourself. So if you say that you want to do muscle, the question is what are you going to do with yourself? And you can do two things - first build a great big theory which suggests some little experiments where you can start, or you can do something different, repeat what the old scientists did - and 100 years ago a scientist did a certain experiment with muscle which I repeated, but kept my eyes open and I have seen that if I make a certain extraction in a slightly different way I get quite a different result. And that led to the discovery of a new muscle protein. And see the great trouble with muscle chemistry was that we took out proteins and they would do nothing outside of the body and I was convinced that if you really have the right protein combination they should jump outside the body - move. So I took these proteins I discovered, put them together.
INTERVIEWER:
Is that actin and myosin?
SZENT-GYORGYI:
Actin and myosin we call it - and add little molecules which surround these substances in the muscle and then the muscles began to move. That was the most exciting experience of my life - to see muscle move outside the body. Muscle which I built myself out of my proteins.
INTERVIEWER:
A real life process in the testube?
SZENT-GYORGYI:
Real life - because you see we know life by motion. If something doesn't move any more then we say its dead. So that's the main sign of life motion - so I tackled this main sign of life. And then I was convinced that in a fortnight I would understand muscle completely and then I worked 20 more years on muscle and didn't learn a thing. So about 10 years ago I changed subject.
Role of science

Role of science

Szent-Gyorgyi on the role of science in the modern world.
Video transcript
What is essential in science is two things - first its morality. I feel very strongly that science has a very strong moral component. Many people say that science has no moral component it is only knowledge and numbers and all that. I feel very strongly that what science is based on is honesty an absolute uncompromising honesty and good will and collaboration and modesty. Because science is built on the human effort of all nations and all people of all colours and creeds so we cannot just cut them out. We are all members of an international society in which time and space plays no place. Galileo is a daily chum of mine and so is Newton - I talk to them daily so to say - you see they are members of my society.
And second, the really essential point of science is a new way of thinking, a new modest, humble way of thinking. I myself the final result of my 50 years work is that I am in silent admiration of life.

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