Anotace přednášek na XXI. valném shromáždění Učené společnosti
/ 20.05.2015 /
Na slavnostní části zazněly přednášky významných hostů.
General Assembly of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic, Prague, 18 May 2015
Abstracts of the talks
Morning Session, Karolinum, Aula Magna, 11:00-12:00
M. Rees: Science, Ethics and Future
In this short talk I shall mention some future new technologies, problems of climate change, etc, which will confront us with policy and ethical challenges where Academies and their international interactions can play an important role.
G. Boulton: Open Data and the Future of Science
Openness to scrutiny of the evidence for a scientific concept has been the bedrock on which scientific progress has been built over the last 300 years. The data storm of recent years threatens to undermine this vital process but also offers great opportunities for scientific discovery. Avoiding the threat and exploiting the opportunity depend on re-discovering openness and sharing data in ways that challenge many habits of researchers and their institutions.
B. Heap: The ‘Smart Villages’ development and science policy: a new Initiative
Much is made of smart cities these days but little is heard about smart villages. With 47% of the world's population and 70% of the world's poor living in rural communities, shifting the balance of opportunities between cities and villages is an intellectual and economic challenge which demands urgent attention from the international community, not least in respect of migration and the growth of mega-cities. The concept of the ‘smart village’ is that modern energy access acts as a catalyst for development – education, health, food security, productive enterprise, environment and participatory democracy – which in turn supports further improvements in energy access. As such, energy access can provide a much needed driver for sustainable economic development and growth for a major (circa 1.3 billion people), but neglected sector of the world’s economy who live 'off-grid' - the underserved people in developing countries who are often referred to as 'The Bottom Billion'.
The significance of International development as we know it today was reflected in President Truman's inaugural address in 1949 - 'a bold new program for making the benefits of scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas'. Six decades later the argument continues about international development and techno-utopian views which are commonplace in today's high-tech world. Yes, real reductions in poverty and hunger have been achieved as indicated by some of the positive outcomes attained by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) recently completed - but there is still a very long way to go. The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should help, but only if served by the combined and often elusive interactions of both 'bottom-up' and 'top-down' approaches.
The Smart Villages Initiative examines the use of access to energy as an entry point into development. On the supply side, it asks what are the scientific and technological of today's and tomorrow's advances which could transform the way that energy, particularly electricity, could become a more realistic proposition for the poor in rural environments? On the demand side it examines whether access to energy is adequately recognised as a catalytic agent for development in off-grid villages?
Open to public
Afternoon Session 13:30-16:45
Charles University, Modrá posluchárna (entrance from Celetná street 20)
M. Rees: From Mars to Multiverse
Astronomers have made astonishing progress in probing our cosmic environment. We can trace cosmic history from some mysterious 'beginning' nearly 14 billion years ago, and understand in outline the emergence of atoms, galaxies, stars and planets.
Unmanned spacecraft have visited the other planets of our Solar System (and some of their moons), beaming back pictures of varied and distinctive worlds. An exciting development in the last decade has been the realisation that many other stars are orbited by retinues of planets -- some resembling our Earth.
Looking further afield, we are understanding galaxies and their nuclei in fuller detail, and can check models of their evolution by detecting objects all the way back to an epoch only a billion years after the 'big bang'. Indeed we can trace pre-galactic history with some confidence back to a nanosecond after the 'big bang'.
But the key parameters of our expanding universe -- the expansion rate, the geometry and the content -- were established far earlier still, when the physics is still conjectural but has been constrained by experimental data, especially from ESA's Planck Spacecraft. These advances pose new questions: What does the long-range future hold? Should we be surprised that the physical laws permitted the emergence of complexity? Were there many 'big bangs' and not just one? This illustrated lecture will attempt to address such issues.
G. Boulton: Earth: the workings of a water planet
We live on a water planet in which 72% of the surface is ocean. It contains 97% of the planet’s water and is fundamental to its working. The ocean is the principal part of the heat engine that re-distributes solar heat over the planetary surface and the source of precipitation on the continents. Its micro-organisms are fundamental natural controls on the planet’s atmospheric gas composition. Without these micro-organisms, Earth would be a dead planet. The origin of the 1,335 million km3 of ocean water remains a source of debate: does it have an extra-terrestrial origin or is it a consequence of deep Earth processes? Changes in Earth surface climate through long periods of geological time are largely a consequence of changes in the form and distribution of ocean basins created by plate tectonics. On shorter timescales, climate changes driven by cyclical variations of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun are amplified by oceanic control of atmospheric gas composition to create great transfers of mass between the oceans and ice sheets, that in turn produce dramatic changes in sea level. At present and in the recent past, human burning of fossil fuel has increased the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases. The resultant warming has largely occurred in the oceans with dramatic knock-on impacts on ice sheets, sea ice and biota. The increased absorption of those gases by ocean waters has increased the acidity of the oceans to levels not known for 30 million years. This and many other damaging impacts makes it timely for humanity to take the oceans seriously.
B. Heap: Can genetically modified crops help to feed the world?
The reasons why food security has become such a key issue in the international agenda are numerous - demand exceeding supply, land use degradation, and sporadic price increases leading to social unrest. Currently the world has more than enough food, but some 1 billion people still go hungry. Food redistribution is only part of the solution. Appropriate and intermediate technologies all have their place, and conventional plant breeding remains as great an influence as it has for hundreds of years.
The advent of molecular plant breeding throws up core questions about what it is that scientists seek to do when building new genetic traits into seeds. Even though they can improve yield and disease resistance, and provide health promoting properties, solutions have provoked both hopes and fears. Do they result in a fundamentally altered relationship of humankind to nature?
At the end of the afternoon session there will be a discussion on the role of Learned Societies
G. Boulton: The policy contributions of a small national academy
The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland’s national academy and seeks ways of using the expertise of its fellows in contributing to policy in Scotland. Seven years ago it developed a new series of policy documents relevant to contemporary policy issues in Scotland. They comprise short advice papers on matters of current concern, briefing papers prior to parliamentary debates that involve highly technical issues, and major studies designed to draw attention to issues that deserve to be matters of public and political concern. In these matters, the Society benefits from a full range of expert fellows from the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, the law etc
Biografie přednášejících ke stažení (PDF, 17 kB)