“We thought it had a very low probability of success” – The best ideas in science are often the ones with the least chance of succeeding, says David MacMillan: “It’s the stuff that should never work which is where all the good stuff is!” As he tells Adam Smith in this conversation recorded on the morning of the announcement, the thrill of discovery is also open to any undergraduate embarking in organic chemistry: “the very first day they build a molecule, it has never been made in the universe before!” And as for the news of his Nobel Prize: he describes how he initially thought it was a prank, bet his co-Laureate, Benjamin List, $1000 that it wasn’t true, and went back to bed!

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