ESOF European Science Open Forum, Dublin, Ireland 11-15 July 2012
My interest in attending this conference was purely based on curiosity. As an architect, I would consider my self a sort of art-scientist, interested in the fundamental questions of the universe, but also the practical and provocative applications of those insights. This four day conference allowed me to immerse myself in the diverse topics of quantum physics, digital innovation, molecular cuisine, secret mathematicians, innovation policy, fracking, string theory of the universe, Higgs particles, water challenges, the pharmaceutical industry and the role of art in science. These were just a selection from hundreds of talks given by five Nobel Laureates, thirty key note speakers and multiple experts in their fields.
Rolf – Dieter Heuer, Director General of Cern, Switzerland talking about ‘a deeper understanding of our universe at the large hadron collider: The world’s largest particle accelerator.
Although we work and operate as individuals within our contained minds, the challenge for scientists and innovators is to use collective and systematic thought processes to make the connections between the worlds urgent problems and the challenge driven goals of science. Through out the conference, speakers discussed the focus of curiosity and challenge driven research. By imaging an inconceivable goal, like ‘putting a man on the men’, this can drive research and discoveries into unknown territories.
Given the economic challenges that Europe is experiencing, science is perceived as critical to releasing new capital from scarce resources. It is no longer considered science for discovery sack, but science for society. In pursing this knowledge, there is an ethical obligation that results of the research will have positive implications. These types of conflict were discussed at the fracking, human genomics, challenges of food supply and nuclear technology debates.
Correlating the appropriate technology with the policy agenda for a nation is critical to achieving sustainability objectives. Although Mary Robinson highlighted, that there are no consequences for those that chose not to comply. It was extremely significant that Ireland hosted this event, for a nation of limited resources, but who pride themselves on resourcefulness.
The welcome address was mc’ed by the diplomatic comedian Dara O’Brian, lifting the seriousness of the conference, suggesting all in attendance would have to produce a piece of poetry following the renditions from our President– Stardust and the Chief Scientific advisor to government – Patrick Cunningham penning his own interpretation of events. The interval entertainment was evocative and resonant, juxtaposing the traditional sounds of Irish Music with futuristic undertones.
President Michael D. Higgins emphasized as he always does, the interconnectedness of science, society, creativity and business, suggesting that the current systems need to be re-invented and re-invigorated. He spoke of the serendipity in science and poetry, inspiring the analytical audience to look beyond their constraints to the stardust that we are all formed from to provide inspiration for our pivoting world.
President Michael D. Higgins welcoming 4,000 delegates and speakers to Euro Science open forum