The Norwegian Minister of Science quotes from Harstad’s Buzz Aldrin

The Norwegian Minister of Science quotes from Harstad’s Buzz Aldrin

November 8, 2011

The Norwegian Minister of Science gave a speech about space exploration to UC Berkeley and Stanford students, and quoted from Johan Harstad’s Buzz Aldrin: What Happened to You in All the Confusion?, which Seven Stories released this past June.

Check out a transcript of the speech:

Not everybody wants to be head of a corporation. Not everybody wants to be among the top sports personalities of their country, to sit on various committees, not everybody wants the best lawyers on their team, not everybody wants to wake up in the morning to jubilation or catastrophe in the headlines. (…)

[S]ome people don’t want to be on TV, or the radio, or in the newspapers. Some people want to watch movies, not perform in them.

Some people want to be in the audience.

Some people want to be cogs. Not because they have to, but because they want to be.

Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The quote I just gave you, is from the novel ”Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in all the Confusion?”, by the Norwegian award-winning author Johan Harstad. The novel was launched in the U.S. in June 2011.

The novel tells the story of Mattias, a thirtysomething gardener living in Norway, whose idol is Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon. Mattias knows all there is to know about Buzz Aldrin. However, he has learned Buzz Aldrin’s story by reading between the lines about Neil Armstrong.

Neil Armstrong was first, Buzz Aldrin was second. Still, this does not mean that Aldrin’s role was any less important than Armstrong’s. The whole expedition and project formed a team, a machinery. And as you all know, in a machinery every screw, bolt and cog is fundamental. In the Apollo mission, the machinery succeeded in placing man on the moon.

The Transatlantic Science Week 2011 is called ”Innovation Frontiers”. The program here at UC Berkeley will concentrate on renewable energy and climate issues, based on the strengths of UC Berkeley and Norwegian research in these areas. Also, there will be workshops dedicated to space science, education science and marine science and oceans monitoring. At Stanford University later this week, we will look into Silicon Valley, new technologies, innovation and energizing research and education through innovation.

Research is a prerequisite for innovation: We constantly need new knowledge, in order to develop and find solutions to the global challenges. Innovators and the desire for political change and new answers push the science, the research and the researchers forward.

The Apollo 11, which took both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon, would never have happened without research and the belief that research can move the frontiers of human activity.

The research and new technologies applied to make the Apollo 11 mission possible have also moved the innovation frontiers in many other fields.

The researchers behind the Apollo 11 mission are even less known to most of us than Buzz Aldrin, but the mission would never have happened without them. As Buzz Aldrin, they were cogs in the bigger process. And within their own research fields and research environments, they were heroes.

Innovation requires an enormous machinery and many cogs:

A solid school system which supplies the higher education institutions with knowledgeable and motivated students.

Higher education institutions which offer high quality education and which facilitate and inspire researchers in their quest for new knowledge – and not the least inspire new recruits to research.

Researchers with high skills and high ambitions who are eager to reveal new knowledge, to find new solutions, and to develop new technologies.

And a system which sees the innovative potential in the findings.

This complexity is well reflected in the Science Week program. The program also grasps the dimension that knowledge production requires cooperation across national borders. The Transatlantic Science Week promotes and facilitates higher education, research and innovation cooperation between Norway and the U.S. and Canada. These two countries are two of Norway’s most important partner countries in these fields.

I am therefore happy to use this event to present to you the new North America Strategy for Higher Education Cooperation 2012-2015 of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

The goal of the new strategy is to increase high quality higher education cooperation between Norway and the U.S. and Canada. The main priorities are:

Collaboration at government level and network arenas,

Institutional partnerships and stronger correlation between higher education and research collaboration, and

Mobility of students and staff

We will spend 10 mill. NOK per year on the follow-up of the strategy. The main measures will be a new call in the Partnership Program and project funding, available to the higher education institutions. This is a chance for new partnerships to unfold. I challenge you all to seize the opportunity.

I believe that the students should benefit from the research cooperation going on between Norwegian and North American partners.

And institutions which have discovered research areas of mutual interest will have a solid foundation also for higher education cooperation. We aim at an increase in partnerships between Norwegian and North American higher education institutions, an increase in joint study provisions, and an increase in the mobility of students and staff.

And we know that the measures work: We have a four year strategy period behind us, during which we have seen an upward trend in the student mobility, especially between Norway and the U.S. – and also more institutional partnerships between Norwegian and North American partners.

However, further success of the strategy is dependent on you: I encourage you all to use these Science Week days to find good cooperation projects which involve your students. They are our future researchers, our future cogs which will transcend the future innovation and research barriers.

I think it is especially appropriate to launch this new strategy here at UC Berkeley, a world leading institution with strong historic ties to Norway. Peder Sather is an important name in the UC Berkeley history, and I believe that the initiative between the Norwegian universities to join forces and establish a “Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study” here will strengthen the already well developed cooperation

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