Speech delivered by Katalin Novák on Hungarian Science Day
Dear Mr. President! Ladies and Gentlemen!
For years, around 3 November, the intellectual backbone of our country has gathered to discuss its scientific discoveries, research and the fruits of its labour in various fields of study. The event is a showcase of Hungarian science and of our successes.
We could ask the question, what is Hungarian science? What makes it ours? What makes it Hungarian? It is Hungarian because it is cultivated by countless Hungarians who have enriched the world with their unique scientific achievements. What they have created is also a Hungarian "product". It reflects the uniquely Hungarian way of thinking and world view. The creativity, perseverance and love of freedom that characterise us Hungarians. This Hungarian way is also present in scientific results, even if we know that science is universal in its essence. It is precisely this, the union of the universal and the specific, that we celebrate on Hungarian Science Day.
The product of the Hungarian mind is prominent in the universal body of knowledge. Without the epochal discoveries of Albert Szentgyörgyi, János Neumann, Dénes Gábor or Katalin Karikó, humanity would be far worse off. It is also thanks to these individuals that Hungarian talent is recognised all over the world.
How can a nation of fifteen million people be so over-represented in the world's scientific communities? To answer this question, we may have to go to the cradle. Zoltán Bay, the great Hungarian physicist and father of radar astronomy, who passed away thirty years ago, said that "our way of thinking and our character are formed in childhood and this will leave its mark on our later life. Early feelings and thoughts are etched in us, they live with us."
Hungarian scientists are born into a unique cradle. They inherit the unique Hungarian language, the unique way of thinking that comes with it. They inherit the unique Hungarian mind, inspired by the rich Hungarian culture and the wonderful environment of the Carpathian Basin.
Hungarian scientists cannot be any different from their compatriots. They look at reality from a unique perspective, and from this they create universal values. Their thirst for freedom finds expression in free thought without limits, their daring in their stubborn search for the secrets of the world, their ingenuity in the creative solutions to scientific problems, combined with the perseverance, the deep humility and the Hungarian stratagem to ensure success.
In these difficult times, we have to rethink many areas of our lives. This is where the world of science and its tools can help us: to find our way, to be our beacon of light guiding us to new directions. We are counting on Hungarian intellectual strength!
In order for those of us who have been entrusted by the Hungarian people to lead the country to find our way in the present, to find the right answers, to make the right decisions, and ultimately to serve our communities, we need the intellectual strength that you, the representatives of science, bring to the table.
I count on you personally, and I hope that you count on me. On Hungarian Science Day, I sincerely wish that today’s Hungarian scientific community will faithfully continue the work of their great predecessors for the benefit of us all.