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New frontiers in scientific advancement

June 03, 1:47 UTC+3
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  • Integration gains momentum in science as boundaries between disciplines blur

“We all have been very much restricted to our own fields – physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and so on. Now we face the need of bringing all these disciplines together to find solutions for our future,” said Riccardo Valentini, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Presidential Advisor, Head of Far Eastern Climate Smart Project, Far Eastern Federal University; Head, CMCC (The Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change).

“In the past, <…> it was just enough to be well-educated in maths and physics to deal with technological, engineering and optoelectronics challenges. Now software and digital technologies are becoming key to success,” said Zhores Alferov, Nobel Prize Laureate and Vice President of the Russian Academy of Science.

MAJOR CHALLENGES:

  • Food and resource shortages

“In the last 50 years, the human population has more than doubled from three to seven billion people, heading towards nine billion by 2050, and we lost 50% of arable land per capita. <...> All this reduces our ability to produce food. At the same time, 1.2 billion people in the world are overweight <...> and 800 million don’t have enough food,” said Riccardo Valentini.

  • Growing environmental threats

“In the period from 2015 to 2035, we are predicting a 15% increase in carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. <...> So, we have to realise that the Paris accord criteria cannot be reached. <…> One of the most pressing problems we have is transportation, with urban environments becoming impossibly polluted with hydrocarbon fuels in cars,” said Rodney John Allam, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Chief Technology Officer, Net Power LLC.

  • Expected shortage of natural resources

“In terms of the energy system, we are looking at 1.3 times the amount of energy consumed in the period from 2015 to 2035. In other words, we are relying on huge growth in productivity of energy efficiency in order to keep down energy consumption,” said Rodney John Allam.

  • Growing inequality and job losses due to new technologies

“The first threat is inequality because digital technology and computerisation cause much bigger inequalities than societies seem to tolerate,” said Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Laureate; Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

“The introduction of robots and artificial intelligence into the labour markets is bringing a threat to the jobs that robots are taking over. <...> If we fail to provide answers to all these questions, there will be resistance towards the introduction of artificial intelligence into the labour markets,” said Christopher Pissarides.

  • Human resistance to antibiotics

“Resistance to antibiotics is one of the big problems of modern medicine <…> If we do not find a solution to this problem, it will mean coming back to the pre-antibiotic era,” said Ada E. Yonath, Nobel Prize in Chemistry Laureate; Professor, Structural Biology Department, Weizmann Institute of Science.

SOLUTIONS:

  • Transforming the education system, creating scientific synergies

“To educate talented professionals who will be at the forefront of the tech development tomorrow, we need to train them profoundly across mathematics and physics, engineering challenges, biology and healthcare, and software development,” said Zhores Alferov.

  • Searching for new sources of food, energy and other resources

“Russia can possibly be the world’s next big food tank. In 2016–2017, Russia became the number one exporter of wheat in the world. <...> In the future, you’ll have a minimum of 40 million hectares of more land <...> which can be used to respond to the global food crisis,” said Riccardo Valentini.

“We have to call for new agriculture and new agricology.<...> A lot of organic waste can be recycled and new technologies are coming out that produce gas and energy <...> so that business will be better and also it will be good for the environment,” added Riccardo Valentini.

“It is estimated that renewable solar and wind power will be cheaper than coal, so renewables will be a very important point. <...> We have to generate some new technology and introduce it very rapidly to deal with the emission of carbon from fossil fuels,” said Rodney John Allam.

  • Searching for solutions to reduce antibiotic resistance

“Actually in Russia, there is a way of fighting the antibiotic problem, diseases and infectious diseases called phage therapy <...> but in my opinion new weapons against resistance are really needed,” said Ada E. Yonath.

 

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