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Global Challenges Need Interdisciplinary Scientists To Solve Them – Is Fusion A Solution To The Energy Crisis?

Channel Talent Seminar – Professor Roddy Vann, Society For Natural Sciences – click here for more info

November 18 @ 12:45 – 13:45

Professor Roddy Vann is from the Department of Physics at University of York. In this session, Roddy represents the newly formed Society for Natural Sciences, a national learned society that promotes interdisciplinary science education and research.

The human species is facing challenges of unprecedented reach and complexity: climate change, viral pandemic, shortage of energy, antibiotic resistance, cyber-warfare.

These problems are complex because their solution lies across the boundaries of the traditional disciplines: for example, in the current pandemic our ability to combat the virus is reliant on the software engineering of track-and-trace apps; mental health is coupled with the availability of videoconferencing tools; epidemiology is as much mathematics and biology. Even beyond this pandemic (and indeed even beyond science), our complex society needs people who can solve problems by bringing together ideas in new ways from across disciplines; this is the most important thing you get from Natural Sciences — not only expert subject knowledge but also the appreciation that different parts of science regard problems in different ways.

As a case study Roddy will consider whether fusion is a solution to the energy crisis: arguably the greatest challenge of this century is to provide sufficient energy that everyone on the planet has access to a decent standard of living. This challenge covers topics from engineering to politics. Fusion is the process that powers our Sun and indeed all stars; there is sufficient fuel on the Earth to provide everyone’s energy for thousands of years; the technology is inherently safe — but it is very difficult to do. Does it present a solution to the energy crisis?

Banner caption: False colour electron microscope image of collagen fibres within a hydrogel.