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Nobel bliss in Nijenborgh

There’s a small celebration happening in one of the long hallways at Nijenborgh 4 at the Zernike complex. Ben Feringa, their Ben Feringa, is a Nobel Prize winner.
By Thereza Langeler / Photography by Traci White

The clearly pleased professor from the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry and Technology is rushing back and forth between shaking hands, answering phone calls and being showered with congratulations. It was during a lecture here in this building at the Zernike Complex that Ben Feringa first heard that he had won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

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The man of the hour is somewhat bashful in the face of such praise. His facial expression is oscillating between a blissed out grin and humble disbelief.

‘Good thing you wore a nice shirt today’ says his daughter with a smile.

He agrees.

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‘Ben’, his colleague Adriaan Minnaard calls out, ‘we have a brilliant idea for a picture: right next to the Stratingh automobile.’

‘Oh yeah’, Feringa says, heading in that direction.

In a conference room, there stands a small wooden vehicle with three wheels in a glass case. This is the first electric car in the world, built by Groningen chemist Sibrandus Stratingh in the 19th century. ‘And now there’s Ben. It doesn’t get any better than this’, says Minnaard with satisfaction while Feringa poses for a photo.

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After the portrait, it’s the next photographer’s turn. We have just enough time to ask him how he’s feeling right now.

‘Very happy. And shocked. And a little bit emotional.’

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Nederlands

05 October 2016 | 12-10-2016, 10:56