Bulletin of Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology
  kyurizukai interview  
10 Yukio Nozaki Thorough pursuit of your target  theme will reveal true fun of learning

Mr. Nozaki says that in his high school days he liked chemistry more than physics. But as a university student he studied under Professor Miyajima and associated with physics-minded friends and overseas researchers, which awakened his interest in physics. His interest in physics continues to grow even today. Especially, standing in front of his students in the classroom as a teacher gives him an impetus, making him more and more aware of the depth of this area of learning. His students are attached to and respect Mr. Nozaki as a strict yet gentle teacher.

 

1 As a child I disassembled  a camera – for curiosity about  its mechanism

photoAs a small child was there anything special you were crazy about?
      According to my mother, I was a child who liked disassembling mechanical things. Since my parents were self-employed, they were usually away from home most of the day. And also because I was an only child, I used to play alone. One day, mother returned home and found me disassembling a camera.
      If I remember correctly, I wanted to know about the camera’s mechanism rather than simply disassembling the camera for fun. Yes, I remember I was curious about what kind of mechanism makes it possible to take photos, and why the camera makes a click when the shutter is pushed. These questions were wonders and caught my interest. Presumably, the camera’s back cover might have come off as I repeatedly opened and closed it in an attempt to look inside – the beginning of disassembly. By the time mother came back home, the camera might have been reduced to screws, parts and so on. I was bitterly scolded.
      Mother often told me that I had done similar things again and again even after that event. For example, as a gift for my congratulatory occasion my grandmother bought a swing for me to play on in the garden. But before enjoying it, I disassembled the swing set into pieces. Curiosity about its mechanism might have been irresistible.
      Because of all these events, it seems to me that mother found me definitely suitable for science and technology. Then she switched her policy: instead of things being disassembled, she gave me plastic model toys, which allowed me not only to disassemble but also reassemble them. From this time on, I also became interested in making things.

Did you like scientific subjects at school as well?
      I wonder. Rather than love of scientific subjects, what occurred to me above all else was awareness of my weakness or dislike of liberal arts-oriented subjects. I liked mathematics and science because I could think and work out answers on the spot. But I was poor in subjects that require day-after-day constant learning (particularly by rote). My performance in writing kanji characters to dictation was truly miserable! Although I could somehow manage these subjects by last minute cramming for examinations up to the end of junior high school, such a makeshift technique didn’t work at all in senior high school. Naturally I stayed away from liberal arts subjects and set my mind toward scientific subjects like mathematics and chemistry. But physics was an exception. All that was required was to work out solutions to hypothetical problems. Back in those days, physics was a subject totally lacking a sense of reality (as it seemed to me). I could little appreciate the true, intrinsic fun of physics.
      When it comes to mechanics, for example, a question like this may be presented: suppose a ball is placed on a slope and is rolled down the slope, how far can the ball climb an upslope in front of the bottom of the slope? As a high school student, I couldn’t appreciate the use of such a question. Putting an imaginary ball on an imaginary slope, rolling it down the slope and estimating the ball’s movement . . . Things like this seemed to me nothing but an empty proposition, which didn’t interest me at all. Speaking of electrodynamics, an intriguing phenomenon was posed as a question – a phenomenon that exerts a force between two substances at separated positions. In this case, no explanation was made of the underlying principles of magnetic field and electric field that cause the phenomenon.
      By contrast, in chemistry, you can reenact a reaction before your eyes if you combine chemicals just as described in the chemical formula in question. It seemed to me chemistry is more realistic or interesting.

 

 

1 As a child I disassembled  a camera – for curiosity about  its mechanism
2 Knowing the fun of physics in  classwork by my respected teacher
3 Concentrate on what you’re doing, especially when you  are at a loss
Profile Yukio Nozaki Mr. Nozaki’s specialties are spin dynamics and spin electronics. His current research theme is the control of spin angular momentum dynamics that is strongly coupled, in ferromagnetic metals, with electronic and electron-phonon systems. He is developing his research work from basic research to applied research for practical applications. In 1998, after acquiring a doctorate (physics), he became a postdoctoral research assistant for Kyushu University’s Graduate School and Faculty of Information Science and Electrical Engineering, assuming the position as an associate professor in 2006. In 2010, he assumed the current position as an associate professor for Department of Physics, Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology.
 
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