Robert Kirby-Harris, Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics explains how physics is central to meeting the global challenges of the future.
From mobile phones to jet engines, the innovations and technologies that drive the modern world are made possible by the application of physics research. Physics research has also been integral in tackling major challenges that the world has faced in the past, and has the potential to do so again in the future.
In recent history, it was physics research into the Earth?s upper atmosphere that detected the expanding hole in the protective ozone layer and also identified the measures that needed to be taken to allow it to recover.
Looking ahead, physicists are currently developing technologies to enable low-carbon electricity generation, such as ever-more efficient solar panels and wind turbines, which will be essential to tackling the causes of climate change. Physics research is also behind modern, low-waste nuclear power stations, and has the potential to realise a power source with no long-lived radioactive wastes ? nuclear fusion.
For these long-term benefits to become a reality, action is needed. We must continue to support both scientific research and the businesses which interpret and develop the products of this research. It is crucial that we retain our ability to invent and innovate if we are to tackle global challenges, and physics is essential to this process.
The Institute of Physics works to promote physics and support physicists, in the UK and Ireland and globally.
For more information, visit: www.iop.org
Added the 21 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1