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Three Nobel Laureates to visit Wellington

The IQ average of Wellington will rise a few notches in February when the triumvirate who were awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for discovering and developing conductive polymers will join other international scientists for a conference in Wellington (February 9th-14th 2003) on advanced materials and nanotechnology.

AMN-1, the conference being presented by the Victoria University-hosted MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, has attracted Victoria alumnus Professor Alan MacDiarmid and fellow Nobel Laureates Professors Alan Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa. The three Laureates will also take part in a number of public events to celebrate and promote science (see page 2).

Professor Paul Callaghan, Director of the MacDiarmid Institute and inaugural Alan MacDiarmid Professor of Physical Sciences at Victoria, says that many of tomorrow’s innovative technologies will require new and super efficient materials.

The science focuses on understanding and using innovative materials to create applications including self-sterilising surfaces, non-corrosive paints, new food textures, wear-resistant machinery, next generation DVDs and fibres that match the strength of spider silk.

The MacDiarmid Institute, hosted by Victoria University, in major partnership with the University of Canterbury and Industrial Research Limited was selected as a Government-funded Centre of Research Excellence in March 2002 to study these materials. It has received three-year operational funding of $13.39m and a one-off $9.8m capital grant.

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The capital funding injection has allowed the MacDiarmid Institute to purchase some of the most advanced equipment in existence, including a super computer and an electron microscope.

"The Government's selection of the MacDiarmid Institute as a Centre of Research Excellence recognises the fine scientific discoveries made by New Zealand scientists from as far back as Ernest Lord Rutherford, through to science heroes of today including Alan MacDiarmid, Maurice Wilkins and Jeff Tallon. The Institute is excited to be able to continue that work, educating young people and fostering scientific excellence," says Professor Callaghan.

“The fact that Alan MacDiarmid, Alan Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa want to come to New Zealand shows that investment in the MacDiarmid Institute was a far sighted decision. New Zealand is firmly part of the global investigation of new materials with potentially ground-breaking applications."

Professor Paul Callaghan can be contacted on 04 463 5945 or 025 609 7308

Conference information is available at the website

Information on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2000 -

Enquiries re media opportunities and interviews can be made to Juliet Montague, Public Affairs Adviser, Victoria University, 04 463 5105 or 025 439 670, or

Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Public Affairs
For further information please contact or phone 04 463 5105 or 025 439 670.

Following is the diary for the Nobel Laureates, February 9th–14th 2003. Further details will be made available in press releases closer to the time.

Sunday 9 February, 3-7pm
Conference registration and social event
Te Papa

Monday 10 February, 9am
Te Papa
Official opening of AMN-1 by the Governor General

Monday 10 February, 6pm
Parliament Reception
Reception at Parliament being attended by the Prime Minister, Ministers, Nobel Laureates, MacDiarmid Institute, conference delegates and members of the science community.

10-12 February
Conference - AMN-1
Te Papa

13 & 14 February
Conference - AMN-1
Victoria University, Kelburn Campus
A specialist symposium for conference delegates, including the Nobel Laureates.

Tuesday 11 February
Unveiling of a plaque to honour Professor Maurice Wilkins CBE
Murphy Building, Victoria University, Kelburn Parade, Wellington
Unveiling of plaque to honour Maurice Wilkins, who in 1962 along with Francis Crick and James Watson shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Maurice Wilkins' boyhood was spent at a house at 30 Kelburn Parade, now the site of the University's Murphy Building.
Poet Chris Orsman will read a poem commissioned by the Royal Society of New Zealand in honour of Professor Wilkins.

Tuesday 11 February, 7-8pm
Public Event - Where is Science Taking Us?
Te Papa, Wellington
Ray Henwood as Master of Ceremonies will facilitate an evening where science "meets the people". Secondary school pupils and Victoria University students will have a question and answer session with the three Nobel Laureates, Professors Alan MacDiarmid, Alan Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa. Members of the public will then be able to ask the Laureates questions.

Enquiries re media opportunities and interviews can be made to Juliet Montague, Public Affairs Adviser, Victoria University, 04 463 5105 or 025 439 670, or

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