The story concerns a young hunter who, in his youth, heard about the great white bird of “absolute truth” which lived at the very top of a high mountain far in the east. He had spent all his life seeking it without success – and now he was growing old.
The old thin hands cut the stone ill and jaggedly, for the fingers were stiff and bent. The beauty and strength of the man were gone. At last, an old, wizened, shrunken face looked out above the rocks. He saw the eternal mountains still rising to the white clouds high above him. The old hunter folded his tired hands and lay down by the precipice where he had worked away his life.
I have sought,” he said, “for long years I have labored; but I have not found her. By the rough and twisted path hewn by countless others before me, I have slowly and laboriously climbed. I have not rested. I have not repined. And I have not seen her; now my strength is gone. Where I lie down, worn out, other men will stand, young and fresh. By the steps that I, and those before me, have cut, they will climb; by the stairs that we have built, they will mount. They will never know those who made them, their names are forgotten in the mists of time. At the clumsy work they will laugh; when the stones roll, they will curse us; but they will mount, and on our work they will climb, and by our stair! They will find her, and through us!”
The tears rolled from beneath the shriveled eyelids. If truth had appeared above him in the clouds now, he could not have seen her, the mist of death was in his eyes.
…Then slowly from the white sky above, through the still air, came something falling … falling … falling. Softly it fluttered down and dropped on to the breast of the dying man. He felt it with his hands –
– a feather.
In the year of 2000, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Alan G. MacDiarmid, Alan J. Heeger, and Hideki Shirakawa “for the discovery and development of conductive polymers”.As part of the ceremony, every one of the Nobel laureate gives a lecture after accepting the prize; a medal and a diploma. Professor MacDiarmid has given one of the most emotive lectures ever in the history of this ceremony. The last transparencies given in his Nobel lecture contents a very emotional message and can be read in the official website of the Nobel Prize. The complete lecture given by Prof. MacDiarmid can be found in physically in a book or streaming the video from the official website of the Nobel Prize. See a Video of the Nobel Lecture I think, I have liked this story because I find myself identifying with the hunter. Almost four years of hard work and frustrations that seems to have absorbed all my energies and motivations for staying in academia. A unfruitful academic process that has lasted the wink of a an eye.