Nordic Life Science 1
THE NOBEL PRIZE JOHN B. GOODENOUGH SPARKED THE WI
RELESS REVOLUTION, AND AT THE AGE OF 97, HE WANTS TO CHANGE THE WORLD ONCE MORE. T E X T by M AL IN O T M ANI OGETHER WITH Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, John Bannister Goodenough received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of lithium-ion batteries. He is also the oldest ever Nobel Prize recipient. Throughout his long and successful career he has often been on the list of possible Nobel Laureates, and he has received several prestigious awards, such as the National Medal of Science in 2013 and the Enrico Fermi Award in 2009. Receiving the Nobel news he says was a “wonderful surprise” and in his interview with Adam Smith from Nobel Media he advised researchers, “Don’t retire too early,” something he indeed is a living example of. John was born in 1922, in Jena, Germany, but he grew up near New Haven, Connecticut, USA. His father was a scholar on the history of religion at Yale. In an interview in Quartz 2015 Goodenough describes his upbringing as difficult and his parents as very distant to him. On top of that he also suffered from dyslexia, something that at that time went untreated. At the age of 12 he was sent to a private boarding school in Massachusetts and he basically lost touch with his parents. In a Chemical & Engineers interview he described the importance of nature growing up and especially a bicycle ride that made him realize the importance of being surrounded by nature. He realized that people growing up exposed to the countryside probably understood a lot of things that people growing up in cities did not. Despite his dyslexia, Goodenough managed a place and an aid package at Yale University to study mathematics. During World War II, after Pearl Harbor, he was advised to volunteer for a post in meteorology and then he graduated with a mathematics degree from Yale in 1944. He subsequently completed a PhD in physics at the University of Chicago in 1952, became drawn to material science and started research on magnetism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Lab. During his time at MIT, where he worked for more than 20 years, he laid the groundwork for the development of the random-access memory (RAM) for the digital computer.