Thursday, 14 November 2013
Returning after a big gap... Welcome to the science blog
It has been a long holiday; not in the normal sense but happenings in my life have kept cropping up leaving little or no time to sit down and write something down.
A year ago, Gerry Peterson introduced me to the idea of harnessing nuclear energy from Thorium. It looked interesting and I presented a seminar at Glasgow University in January 2013 about the promise of Th as an energy source. There are aspects in Th energy that are very attractive but the way I see nuclear energy is a stop-gap measure until we have sufficient renewable energy available - optimistically by 2075. Uranium technology is much more firmly established and that is the way most new nuclear plants will be built over the next 30 years to fill in the energy gap being created by forsaking fossil fuels and waiting for ample supply of renewable energy.
Sometimes the pessimist in me gets the upper hand and the feeling that we won't actually reduce our use of fossil fuels ignoring all warnings about climate change issues. The task of achieving a harmonious world order will get more difficult with misery for billions of people. The rich countries will probably suffer much less and majority of pain will fall on the poorer populations of Africa and Asia.
Other exciting developments that I struggle to keep up with are in Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence and Biotechnology (NAIB). Research is moving too rapidly there and while I thought many times of preparing a series of talk on these subjects, a feeling of being not quite ready always dominates. It is nevertheless good to read with excitement what is happening in these fields and feel thankful that retirement has given me the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of labour of so many researchers throughout the world.
I feel much more at home now looking back towards the history of science and have started on the preparation of a series of talks on the life and work of some of our great scientists. The Curies are fascinating for the sheer determination and hard work that they showed over two generations and as a result dominated the field of nuclear physics for more than quarter of a century. Five Nobel Prizes are apt proof of how significant their contribution was. Something that I did not appreciate until recently was the wisdom of hoarding Polonium and Radium by Marie Curie in her institute. This gave her the most powerful radiation source for nuclear research only bettered after particle accelerators appeared on the scene.
I hope to use the blog to comment on some of the current scientific news about Climate Change, NAIB and whatever else looks interesting.