Tag - julia king

The Science Council list: Leading UK practising scientists

The Science Council listed 100 leading UK practising scientists earlier this week. Congratulations to each of them!

The UK has a long tradition of its people contributing greatly to scientific endeavour — and thereby expanding our understanding of How The World Really Works (cf our sometimes bizarre beliefs!) and creating the myriad technologies underpinning our lives today.  The Science Council #100scientists are part of this brilliant tradition.

NewOptimistsScientists_ScienceCouncil responseAs, too, are the 110 (and counting) New Optimists scientists. 

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Reducing the UK’s carbon footprint — one of the world’s largest

New Optimist Dame Julia King has brought two recent important reports from the Committee on Climate Change to my attention. (By the by, she’s one of only nine people on the Committee, and the only woman.)

The first report, published in April 2103, is Reducing the UK’s carbon footprint and managing competitiveness risk. This is a response to a Government request to look at the role of consumption-based emissions. The UK is now one of the world’s largest net importers of emissions, with a carbon footprint around 80% larger than our production emissions.

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Nobel laureate Harry Kroto at Aston University

I met several New Optimists — Professor Dame Julia King, Professors Robert Berry, Gina Rippon and Brian Tigue plus Dr Gareth Griffiths — at the official opening of the new labs for teaching applied chemistry and chemical engineering at Aston University yesterday evening.

The place was crowded. And rightly so. All of us were there to hear a witty polymath. Nobel laureate Sir Harry Kroto no less.

While at Sussex University, he was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of buckminsterfullerene, along with Richard Smalley and Robert Curl at Rice University in Texas.

He gave an outstanding lecture after the official opening. It was gratifying to him, as to me, that most of his audience were youngsters. As he said, truly outstanding work by the likes of Einstein, Dirac and Franklin are achieved when scientists are young.

I can’t begin to do justice to the amusing yet intellectually-demanding lecture he gave, so will upload a link to the video of it as soon as possible.

Build a bunker with a vegetable plot on some high but sheltered ground

Sometimes I’m asked why the New Optimists Forum (twitter: #tnofood) is about feeding Birmingham in 2050, when climate change is now the biggest, most urgent challenge facing humanity.

Here’s why.

“Build a bunker with a vegetable plot on some high but sheltered ground and leave it to your grandchildren; dangerous levels of climate change now look all but inevitable.” So wrote Ian Jack in the Guardian yesterday.

So what, I ask myself, might this mean for us Brummies?

We flee above the bog-line on Kinder Scout along with a million others? Abandon all to join the squabbling gannets on Rockall and intone Carol Anne Duffy’s The Prayer?

Maybe instead Brum counts as “high but sheltered”?

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Experts & the public head to Aston University to take on ageing

Experts from around the UK are at Aston University today to exchange ideas as part of a one-day conference tackling ageing. The conference is organised by Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA), which is led by New Optimist Dr Roslyn Bill.

She says: “This showcase is about exchanging ideas, as well as looking for practical solutions to a major challenge for all of us. We hope those who attend will go away having been inspired after hearing about the huge amount of cutting edge research carried out here at Aston University.

At ARCHA, we’ve always said that we want our research to have real impact on the lives of older adults. We are keen for the public to come along to see what we are doing, and also so we can find out what matters to them. If we don’t know what affects their lives we can’t help them as well. We are looking for volunteers, and there will be opportunities to take part in our many research studies.”

As well as Roslyn, other New Optimists involved in leading this event include Helen Griffiths, Julia King, Peter Lambert, James Wolffsohn, Brian Tighe and Robert Berry.

You can read more about the event here. Look out for our interview with Roslyn Bill very soon.

Networks, nodes and knowledge

Virtual worlder, AI specialist and New Optimist David Burden of Daden is joined by Lucy Hooberman WMG’s Director of Digital Media and Innovation, Maverick TV founder Jonnie Turpie, and video game producer, Rare’s Nick Burton at a Science Capital event on 13th October (5:30 to 9pm) at Birmingham’s Hotel du Vin.

You can book your place/s

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Julia King’s response

I very much doubt that Julia King, Aston’s VC, author of HM Tresury King Review, member of the Government’s Climate Change Committee, knew she was one of the first scientists I asked to write, maybe the first.

Her response made me think I was perhaps on to a winner . . . Within 24 hours she’d got back to me, via her super-efficient and friendly PA , Liz Hindson. Yes of course she’d write something, and would I also approach the people on the list she’d given me?

Now that was more than useful . . . Phoning up the Dean of this, or the Head of that, and saying that their VC had suggested that . . .

I realised I was on to something.

I really enjoyed calling the scientists up.  All  but one was friendly, intrigued, wanted to write something. They had varied questions about what they should write about.

I was deliberately and openly unhelpful, telling them I wanted diversity, needed their voice, not mine. So I gave them  only a little info — a single sheet of A4 about John Brockman, what I was proposing, itself beautifully designed . . . but no template, nor any suggestion of what they should say.

All they had to do was write a thousand or fifteen hundred words giving their perspective as a scientist on what they were optimistic about. I promised help if they got writer’s block . . .

I refused to give them anything more . . . except the copyright agreement to sign and the deadline for submissions. Oh, and a promise, faithfully kept, to nag them from time to time and keep them up-to-date on progress this end.

The deadline? 31st July. Enough time to let them get over exam boards and all that, but before they went away on holiday. Some of them would slip, but of course. But I’d catch them as soon as they returned from holiday . . . allowing editing to happen in the autumn, and the book design to be able to be started in the early New Year.

I had a Plan that was beginning to motor.

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