This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – brightrecruits.com can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Blog

Too good to be true?

matin 1.jpg
Who’s who of science and engineering

By Matin Durrani

This will be my last blog entry during my visit to KAUST — Saudi Arabia’s new research university, which opened on Wednesday.

The highlight of yesterday was the inaugural symposium entitled “Sustainability in a changing climate”, which is a key part of KAUST’s mission.

First to speak was George W Bush’s former energy secretary Samuel Bodman, who outlined four priorities for tackling climate change — increased energy efficiency, new-generation nuclear reactors, growing use of renewables and advanced biofuels, and better exploitation of fossil fuels such as clean coal.

Next up was Alec Broers, former president of the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, who discussed the importance of engineers in sustainability. “Scientists have sounded the alarm. Engineers need to find the solution”; he said. Mind you, he would say that — Broers trained as a physicist at the University of Melbourne before a career in engineering.

matin 2.jpg
Madly perfect?

After words from a couple of other heavyweights — Imperial College rector Sir Roy Anderson and University of Southern California president Steven Sample — on to the stage came Chen Ning Yang, the 87-year-old physicist who shared the 1957 Nobel prize with Tsung-dao Lee.

Remarkably young looking, Yang stressed the importance of basic research, pointing out how quantum theory in the early decades of the 20th century led to semiconductors, which led to transistors, which led to chips — without which computers, TV and the rest of modern life — would not exist.

Yang’s view, widely held, is that basic research leads to applied research in a linear path. Actually, things are a lot more complicated than that, but cosily ensconsed in my leather seat high up in KAUST’s vast auditorium, I kept quiet.

As I stepped out of the symposium into the warm evening air, the angular, university buildings were lit up beautifully and a troupe of singers could be heard singing in the main square where small tables lay with cold drinks. Guests pressed forwards to the music, and there, above the scene, as if by arrangement, was a half-crescent moon, the symbol of Islam. Like KAUST itself, the whole scene seemed madly perfect — and almost too good to be true.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

One comment to Too good to be true?

  1. Jose Sanabria

    Science does not need a big show to understand it. It must be the simplest way to value how we know ourselves. The Knowledge needs Wisdom to develop itself, but it does not need arrogance in any way. The knowledege is patrimony of the humanity.

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guidelines

  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="http://www.google.com">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="http://iop.org/">IOP</blockquote>
IOP
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/index.html">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux