Finland 2003 – University of Helsinki

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Date: 17 November 2003
Place of Ceremony: National Archives of Finland
Host Institution: University of Helsinki
Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters
National Archives of Finland
Host Country: Helsinki, Finland

Societas Scientiarum Fennica Societas Scientiarum Fennica
The National Archives Service The National Archives Service

(Finland, November 17) The World Cultural Council celebrated it´s 20th Anniversary at the National Archives of Finland, with the host of the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters.

Martin Rees, Royal Society Professor at Cambridge University, considered as a leader in understanding the structure and evolution of the universe, received the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science during this Award Ceremony. He acknowledge “It is a particular honour to be added to this distinguished row code winners in previous years” and pointed out that” Our Earth, a tiny ‘pale blue dot’ in the cosmos, may be of galactic –even cosmic– significance. It could be one of the rare locations where advanced life has merged and with the potential to develop further.

From this perspective, the present century seems the most crucial in Earth’s history — it is a century when human choices and actions could ensure the perpetual future of life (which may lie not just on the Earth, but far beyond it); in contrast, through malign intent, or through misadventure, 21st-century technology could jeopardise life’s potential, foreclosing its human and posthuman future”.

The “Leonardo da Vinci” World Award of Arts was given to Otto Piene, painter, sculptor, sky artist and writer, expressed “I am deeply grateful for receiving this reward” and continued “Peace, enlightenment, shared spiritual energy and cultural curiosity are values implied or openly advocated by a growing world community of arts. The role of art in general and academic education – including science, technology and media – is being recognized, or, recognized again in some places of today’s world. As usual, the world is in a state of crisis now but being here feels good. Thank you very much, Consejo Cultural Mundial”.

The prizes were delivered from the Rector of the University of Helsinki, Prof. Ilkka Niiniluoto, the President, Dr José Rafael Estrada, and the Vice President Prof. Phillip Tobias.

Prof. Niiniluoto gave his welcome address to this Award Ceremony and said

“We live in a world which is full of battle, fighting, misery, and suffering. Unfortunately the results and discoveries of science and technology have been used also for evil and destructive purposes. Many people are desperate or losing their faith in the progress of the humanity. In this situation, it is a great delight to see that there still are insightful persons and powerful international organizations which actively work for improving the human condition. We must not give up our attempt to build up a better world. Scientific research, artistic creation, and education for all are the main tools that we have for advancing this ethically demanding objective. Universities as academic institutions have a responsibility of serving the whole of humanity and its sustainable future on our globe, and thus we are natural allies to organizations that share the same moral goal”

Prof. Phillip Tobias, Vice President of the World Cultural Council offered his thanks and felicitations on this vicenial anniversary to Dr Estrada, for being led during two decades by him and his vision; inspired by his ideals “which have led to the founding of, not only the World Cultural Council, but also the Global Foundation and the International University near Mexico City”.

He continued …” Previously I have pointed out that there is a place in science for both ethics and aesthetics – or, if you will, “ethos” and “aesthetikos”. Here in Finland, I see a hint of the personal symbiosis in Johan Julius (“Jean”) Sibelius. He is widely admired as Finland’s greatest composer: yet, I was exceptionally interested to read that, as a schoolboy, he had excelled in mathematics. It has been said that the mathematical brain and the musical brain are often powerfully developed in the same individual. The elegant precision of musical notation and the rigorous exactitude of mathematics seem to have much in common. It is perhaps not surprising to find those parts of the human brain that subserve mathematical skill and musicality often to be strongly developed in the same individual”.

“Sibelius: is he perchance a model for us and for tomorrow’s man? For surely, if mankind’s intellect is to survive in the future, humanity needs a certain kind of synthesis. In that sense Sibelius has shown us the way. That way lies wisdom. That way lies survival”.

Dr José Rafael Estrada highlighted during his address that “History has taught us that the repression of minority groups, wars and violence have all arisen out of prejudices, whether ethnic, ideological or religious. Something has to be done in order for us to understand each other, to respect each other. The world must change. It’s not right to keep people in cages in inhumane conditions, faceless, nameless and defenceless, bearing nothing but their suffering. Nor is it right, and indeed it is terrible, for the world to be held hostage by terrorism. Violence breeds more violence”.

Dr Estrada claims “I am convinced, from first-hand experience, of the goodness and wisdom that can exist in someone with no religion whatsoever. We have worked together for a better world, side by side, with people of the most diverse ideologies.

Justice, goodness, prudence and wisdom can all exist in a scientist, and I bear witness to that, since virtue is not the monopoly of any religion, however much bounty it may have.

We are working to assist the advent of an Age of Peace and Fraternity among men and nations, for the realization of a better world in which ideological, ethnic, social and all other differences are respected, and where prejudice against and suspicion of what is different are ended”.

Outstanding finnish scientists such as Prof. Sören Illman, Prof. Markku Kulmala, Prof. Antti Vaheri and artists Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Hannu Kähönen Yrjö Kukkapuro, Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi, Nina Roos, Henry Wuorila-Stenberg were recognized by the World Cultural Council for their devoted and productive trajectory.

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