• Question: what makes your cause more important than all of the other scientists?

    Asked by lucy to Aaron, Abbey, Keith, Natalie, Pete on 16 Nov 2015.
    • Photo: Peter Burgess

      Peter Burgess answered on 16 Nov 2015:

      I wouldn’t say that it is.
      I work in solar power because I have committed myself to using my work to fight climate change but the other scientists work on drug development, healthcare, cleaning up after nuclear disasters, and making the world more efficient.
      What I do is important, but it’s not my place to say it’s more important than the work of others, whether that be the other scientists participating in IASGMOOH or plumbers, jugglers, farmers…

    • Photo: Aaron Boardley

      Aaron Boardley answered on 17 Nov 2015:

      Do you mean the work I do, or the way I would spend the prize money?

      As for my work – I don’t think it is. The world needs all sorts of people. If none of us were doctors we’d get sick. If none of us were engineers we’d still be living in caves. If none of us worked on solar power then we’d be in huge danger of emitting damaging levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If none of use worked in disaster zones then millions of people would be in danger.

      I think my work is important as there is a huge shortage of engineers in the UK – we need 75,000 more people a year to take up engineering jobs to help solve the problems coming up. My work is part of sharing the work of engineers and scientists, and this is one of the big problems we’re facing at the moment. It’s just part of the puzzle, but not the only part.

      And as for how I’d spend the money – I’ll let you be the judge! All I know is an engineering summer school really helped me when I was 16, so if I can spend the money on a project to help other students explore their career options then I hope it’s money well spent.

    • Photo: Natalie Garrett

      Natalie Garrett answered on 20 Nov 2015:

      It’s tough to say whether one cause is more important than other causes. Personally, I don’t like to say whether one scientist’s work is more important than another’s, because I think we need to encourage all kinds of scientific discovery. You never know what the longer-term impact will be for even seemingly obscure research. For instance, when the laser was first invented in the 1960’s, people thought it was cool but basically useless, they couldn’t think of what it could be used for. Nowadays, we use lasers all the time, and my research wouldn’t be possible without them. If someone had said at the time, “lasers aren’t as important as biochemistry, stop researching them!” then we wouldn’t have Blu ray players, for instance.

      The reason I am particularly motivated by my cause is that I have lost a lot of relatives to cancer and I want to try to help stop this from happening to other people. My project is about making nanoparticles that can ferry therapeutic medicines around the body, to better treat things like brain cancer. Hopefully we’ll be able to help a lot of people with this research.