Thomas Südhof, who shares this year’s Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology, told The Lancet in August 2010 that he owes his powers of analysis and concentration to studying a musical instrument.
What apart from your family is the passion of your life?
I always try to understand everything I encounter—not only in science, but also historical and political events and music and movies—get to grips with the content, meaning, and process. This is immense fun, as strange as that may sound.
Who was your most influential teacher, and why?
My bassoon teacher, Herbert Tauscher, who taught me that the only way to do something right is to practice and listen and practice and listen, hours, and hours, and hours.
How do you relax?
Drink wine and talk to the people I love.
What is your favourite book, and why?
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, because it is a microcosm of the world and Goethe’s beautiful language expresses all of our potential and contradictions.
You can have dinner tonight with a famous person—who would it be?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, so that I could try and find out if his creativity was conscious or inherent.
h/t Gerhard Veith