New Kyurizukai
An encounter with one book completely changed the life of a boy who had disliked science. Highlighting warm-hearted research scientists dedicated to the pursuit of truth, the book deeply inspired the boy and changed his course of life into becoming a researcher himself. Striving in the highly competitive world of researchers, Dr. Watanabe could broaden and accumulate knowledge about how great scientists of the past as well as those researchers he had met while studying abroad identified their research themes and pursued their studies. Dr. Watanabe says that this knowledge has been very useful in guiding his life to this day.

What was your childhood like?
      I was born as the first boy of self-employed parents engaging in electrical work business. As such, word processors and PCs were always around me in my childhood. This family environment naturally led me to take interest in computer programming. In those days, my father left home early in the morning, came back in the evening and spent most of the night at home with me. Since childhood, it had been my dream to choose an occupation by which I can spend time freely like my father.

photoDid you like studying?
      Up to my high school days, I liked mathematics and world history but science was my weak point. Science is a subject handling natural phenomena that are complex as well as diverse. As opposed to the purely logical world of mathematics, science involved things still remaining unexplained; this is why I felt some “suspicion” about explanations provided in the science textbook. The science textbook also contained sections to be learned by heart, which seemed dry and dull to me. Once I challenged a cram school teacher with this question. He said, “I can’t explain it either. You should know that physics begins with accepting the results of experiments as they are.” I still remember his remark.
      As a third-year high school student, however, I happened to read a book entitled “From X-rays to Quarks” which I borrowed at a nearby public library. After reading it, I suddenly became fond of physics. The book was a fascinating account of how “Quantum Mechanics” – that great academic framework representative of the 20th century – came into being after years of heated arguments among leading physicists, each with outstanding individuality, as they struggled with the apparently complex natural phenomena. Each and every physicist who appeared in the book was full of individuality and full of human traits. I really wanted to make friends and work with these physicists at some point in the future. At the time, I realized that I would be able to find my position in this field by giving full play to my individuality and creative ideas only because physics targets complex and often incomprehensive natural phenomena.