London: (Agencies: 10/9/2008): The most brilliant minds should be directed to solving Earth’s greatest challenges, such as climate change, says Sir David King.
The former UK chief scientist will use his presidential address at the BA Science Festival to call for a gear-change among innovative thinkers.
He will suggest that less time and money is spent on endeavors such as space exploration and particle physics.
He says population growth and poverty in Africa also demand attention.
The festival is being held this year in Liverpool.
Sir David’s remarks will be controversial because they are being made just as the UK is about to celebrate its participation in the Large Hadrons Collider (LHC) the worlds biggest physics experiment.
The Collider, built at the Cern laboratory under the Swiss-French border, is starting full operations today (10/9/2008).
It will seek to understand the building blocks of matter, and, in particular, try to find a mechanism that can explain why matter has mass.
This international venture is extremely expensive, however. The UK alone has contributed more than £500m to the LHC – the largest sum of money to date invested by a UK government in a single scientific project.
Chief among challenges where the outcome for our civilization is really crucial, according to Sir David, is the issue of climate change. Sir David is on record as saying ‘the threat from climate change is bigger than the threat posed by terrorism.’
He said alternatives to fossil fuels were desperately needed to power a civilization that would number some nine billion people by mid-century – nine billion people who would all expect a high standard of living.
David has even questioned whether the spending on particle physics research in the shape of Cern’s Large Hadrons Collider was the best route to that goal