Today is the day. Prof. Ada Yonath will officially be awarded her Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Thursday in Stockholm. Just before she curtseys before the King of Sweden and walks with him in a royal procession, Yonath gave an interview to Ynet on Wednesday, saying she hopes her win will encourage more women to enter the sciences.
So far, nine Israelis have won the sought-after prize.
Yonath won't have to put on glasses in order to see she is in the minority. The Israeli chemist is one of five women laureates who will take the stage of the Stockholm Concert Hall to accept the prize.
"I don't distinguish between men and women. This is irrelevant to me, and I don't think in these terms. But it is clear from a statistical standpoint that there are many more men than women in the field," said Yonath to Ynet on a telephone all from Stockholm.
"I imagine that even those who do want to go into to the sciences understand that not every scientist receives prizes, but I am sure this exposure has already had an effect. I have already heard of children who want to study chemistry because of this. I hope little girls do, too," said Yonath.
Prof. Ada Yonath taking it all in at Nobel rehearsals (Photo: AFP)
Yonath is staying in the Grand Hotel in the Swedish capital together with her close family. "I am here with my daughter, my grand-daughter, and my sister, and we are all in a great mood," she said.
The Nobel ceremony is planned and rehearsed down to the minute and the very last detail. Yonath explained, "Today we will rehearse how to go up and down the steps. Everyone laughs at me when I tell them about the rehearsals. It really is funny; everything is so meticulous. During the rehearsals, we learn how to curtsey before the king. Because I will be the one accompanying the King of Sweden, I also need to learn a special walk."
Fans come to the hotel
But all the glamour comes at a price. The new Nobel laureate has already had to fend off fans and finagle to paparazzi cameras.
"Adults are standing in front of the hotel with pieces of paper and printed pictures of us that they got from the internet. They stand there for hours on end in the morning waiting for us to come out and give our autographs. They know our names, know about us. I spoke with some of them. One of them told me that he stands there every year. They are people obsessed with the Nobel Prize. Many of them are already known to the hotel guards," explained Yonath.
Despite this, Yonath has no delusions of become a media star. "Even if I tried to fill up the stadium in Ramat Gan, I don't think I could," she quipped.
Yonath concluded the interview with her hopes to leave the public eye. "I'm not concerned that people will be sick of me. I wish they were sick of me already," she said.
However, despite her statements, it is hard to believe that Yonath is really suffering. Immediately after her conversation with Ynet she returned to the television cameras focusing on her throughout her trip.
"It could be in the future that a certain cheapness will result from this massive coverage, but, in the meantime, it mainly provides a different and positive way for thinking about science. I hope that in the end they will forget me, or at least leave me alone, but will remember the scientific breakthrough."
Daniel Edelson contributed to this report