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Nobel Prize-winner had graduated last in his class

<quote>
Masatoshi Koshiba, one of the three winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics, on Wednesday provided evidence of his earlier claim he was the worst student in his university class by making public a copy of a transcript issued by his alma mater, Tokyo University.
</quote>

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20021010wo33.htm

J. D. Trollinger
Wednesday, October 09, 2002


  Well, I guess that my old dream of winning a Nobel Price isn't dead.

 

Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Wednesday, October 09, 2002

You know how Einstein's grades were supposedly bad? Well, mine were even *worse*.

J. D. Trollinger
Wednesday, October 09, 2002

imho, clever people are clever enough to concentrate on the important things.... for which school/university is a trampoline at most.

René Nyffenegger
Thursday, October 10, 2002

The Einstein thing is a myth.  He actually got very good grades - except in French.

Nick
Thursday, October 10, 2002

What follows is a transcript of the speech delivered by Larry Ellison, CEO
of ORACLE (2nd Richest Man on the Planet) at the Yale University last
month:
"Graduates of Yale University, I apologize if you have endured this type
of prologue before, but I want you to do something for me. Please, take a
good look around you. Look at the classmate on your left. Look at the
classmate on your right. Now, consider this: Five years from now, 10 years
from now, even 30 thirty years from now, odds are the person on your left
is going to be a loser. The person on your right, meanwhile, will also be
a loser. And you, in the middle? What can you expect? Loser. Loserhood.
Loser Cum Laude. "In fact, as I look out before me today, I don't see a
thousand hopes for a bright tomorrow. I don't see a thousand future
leaders in a thousand industries. I see a thousand losers. "You're upset.
That's understandable. After all, how can I, Lawrence 'Larry' Ellison,
college dropout, have the audacity to spout such heresy to the graduating
class of one of the nation's most prestigious institutions? I'll tell you
why. Because I, Lawrence "Larry" Ellison, second richest man on the
planet, am a college dropout, and you are not. "Because Bill Gates,
richest man on the planet-for now, anyway-is a college dropout, and you
are not. "Because Paul Allen, the third richest man on the planet, dropped
out of college, and you did not. "And for good measure, because Michael
Dell, No. 9 on the list and moving up fast, is a college dropout, and you,
yet again, are not."
"Hmm... you're very upset. That's understandable. So let me stroke your
egos for a moment by pointing out, quite  incerely, that your diplomas
were not attained in vain. Most of you, I imagine, have spent four to five
years here, and in many ways what ou've learned and endured will serve you
well in the years ahead. You've established good work habits. You've
established a network of people that will help you down the road. And
you've established what will be lifelong relationships with the word
'therapy.' All that of is good. For in truth, you will need that network.
You will need those strong work habits. You will need that therapy. "You
will need them because you didn't drop out, and so you will never be among
the richest people in the world. Oh sure, you may, perhaps, work your way
up to No. 10 or No. 11, like Steve Ballmer. But then, I don't have to tell
you who he really works for, do I? And for the record, he dropped out of
grad school. Bit of a late bloomer. "Finally, I realize that many of you,
and hopefully by now most of you, are wondering, 'Is there anything I can
do? Is there any hope for me at all?' Actually, no. It's too late. You've
absorbed too much, think you know too much. You're not 19 anymore. You
have a built-in cap, and I'm not referring to the mortar boards on your
heads."
"Hmm... you're really very upset. That's understandable. So perhaps this
would be a good time to bring up the silver lining. Not for you, Class of
'00. You are a write-off, so I'll let you slink off to your pathetic
$200,000-a-year jobs, where your checks will be signed by former
classmates who dropped out two years ago."
"Instead, I want to give hope to any underclassmen here today. I say to
you, and I can't stress this enough: leave. Pack your things and your
ideas and don't come back. Drop out. Start up. "For I can tell you that a
cap and gown will keep you down just as surely as these security guards
dragging me off this stage are keeping me dow..."

Seemore
Thursday, October 10, 2002

http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blellison.htm

Not
Thursday, October 10, 2002

Has to be said, in Japan, getting in to the right university is everything, whether you do anything or not there is irrelevant. Tokyo university is the absolute high point, and anyone who can make it there has already arrived.

It is really a different system than in the US or Europe, low marks in Tokyo Uni mean a lot more than top marks in Wakayama... Essentially nobody fails or gets kicked out either.

If you want to know what kind of student he was, look at his high school transcripts, I would guarantee they are eye popping.

Robin Debreuil
Friday, October 11, 2002

I've never understood the Japanese.  They're full of contradictions.

Painfully polite in one-on-one settings, they're pushy and obnoxious in crowds (like on a subway train).

They work like demons in grade school and on the job, but they're slackers in college.

They're very good at most academic subjects, but they can't speak English to save their lives.

They're not good at English (as noted above), yet their language contains many "loan words" from English.

They're pretty advanced in engineering (and, to a lesser extent, in pure science), and yet the population as a whole is very supersitious.

I just don't get it.

J. D. Trollinger
Friday, October 11, 2002

Ok, I'll bite - I don't think the contradictions are any greater than anywhere else, just the culture is more different, so they are more obvious sometimes...

> Painfully polite in one-on-one settings, they're pushy and obnoxious in crowds (like on a subway train).

They are pretty polite for crowds, just the trains are packed, hard not to push. Of course they do have group personalities like everyone else - eg. check out packs of American tourists in Mexico (from a distance!).

> They work like demons in grade school and on the job, but they're slackers in college.

(As you know) Uni is considered by many the only break you'll get in your life, so they enjoy it to the max. Kind of the way we think you should enjoy your childhood, before responsibility etc.

> They're very good at most academic subjects, but they can't speak English to save their lives.

The education system there still thinks languages should be memorized, not learned. It is very hard to go somewhere to practice for any length of time. And I suspect there is a deep resistance inside the culture, sprung from the struggle to remain Japanese while living beside a very large and dominant China, but that is just my own pet theory...

> They're not good at English (as noted above), yet their language contains many "loan words" from English.

How's your French? Greek? The loan words are not english of course, just from english...

> They're pretty advanced in engineering (and, to a lesser extent, in pure science), and yet the population as a whole is very supersitious.

Americans are also good at this, and look how many beleive in god. Maybe our own superstitions seem more logical, but turning water into wine, virgins having children, rising from the dead, an old man upstairs, eternal hell... it might sound a little bizzare to the unitiated.

I'm not saying the cultures are the same, just their culture is different in the same ways others are. I think one of the issues is 'we' (NA or Europeans) tend to look at the US, then maybe a few European countries and maybe a Mexico and then think we have a good sampling of the world. Really though you have a few very similar cultures, latin or germanic languages, christian culture, western institutions... Japan has been the only one in the 'club' that was actually different, so it always gets the 'weird' label.

Robin Debreuil
Friday, October 11, 2002

Just adding to what Robin said, I still find it hard to believe that a lot of people equate one's proficiency in English with one's intelligence.

Language is about communication, and if Japanes suffices, then so be it.

On loaned words, I think you will find it in any language. My mother tongue is Shona, but I speak when I speak Shona what I might call Shonglish. Shona with English. I use the most comfortable word, Shona or English. I don't even realise it, and this is fine if whoever I am talking to understands me.

I only realise just how bad my Shona is when I speak to my grandparents. Then I have to think about every word I am saying.

Where I come from, proficiency in English is more a sign of social background. You can normally tell what school, or rather what sort of school someone went to by their accent.

And yes, even in Africa, in a lot of cases your school matters more than your actual grades.... .. at least it makes it easier to get those doors open. Like they say, people tends to employ younger versions of themselves. I remember going for an interview with an "old boy". We pretty much spent the entire interview talking about the days at school in his time, and the changes when I was there. (yes, I did get the job).

tapiwa
Saturday, October 12, 2002

Tapiwa wrote:  "I still find it hard to believe that a lot of people equate one's proficiency in English with one's intelligence."

I never said that Japanese weren't intelligent.  What surprises me is the poor effort:results ratio when it comes to their ability to learn English.  My ex-girlfriend (an American-born woman of Japanese ancestry) taught English for two years in a small town in Japan.  The students worked hard, but you'd never know it based on their ability to use the language.

J. D. Trollinger
Saturday, October 12, 2002

J.D. Apologies for misunderstanding you, but you did write "They're very good at most academic subjects, but they can't speak English to save their lives."

I will probably stir a hornets nest in saying this, but languages are not academic subjects. They are assimilated, sort of by osmosis. Hence the distinctions between the English in the old colonies. We do have to account for the regional and mother tongue influences. That is why people from one region tend to sound the same, and I suppose until you have more native, or close to native English speakers in Japan, then kids there will continue to speak like the next person or worse yet, sound like the people on TV.

You might have the grammar and 'language structure' down to a tee, but how many people actually speak like that.

One might argue that even that is regional, but then again old chap, one does not wish to sound like one is a troll. :-)

tapiwa
Sunday, October 13, 2002

"What surprises me is the poor effort:results ratio when it comes to their ability to learn English."

The poor results come from a lack of native English speakers with whom they can practice.  If you're not aware, English is an incredibly difficult language to learn to use colloquially because so much of it is simply common usage, with few practical rules to guide it.  The only people with whom they can practice are others with the same poor, textbook-driven understanding of it. 

My brother taught English in Japan, and it's actually done very well, I think: lots of practical conversations and everyday usages.  I think they get hung up on the absence of rules, not the presence of them.

I work for an American company in Wisconsin owned by a Japanese company, and we have several Japanese from the parent company.  All of them have improved their English mightily over the last few years just from being immersed in English.

I proofread the president's English communications, and it's very difficult for him because, after almost every correction, he asks "what's wrong with what I wrote?", to which I can only reply "that's just not the way we say it."  The step from Engrish to English is the hardest.

Justin Johnson
Monday, October 14, 2002

I think there is also a factor that Japanese and English have very different structures
indeed. There are whole concepts, I believe,
in oriental langauges that are vastly different from occidental ones. Which is why westerners are also bad at oriental languages, even though we mostly seem to be able to get on with French, German, Spanish etc.

Maybe I should ask one of the four or five native Chinese  speakers we have in our office.

David Clayworth
Tuesday, October 15, 2002

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