Key Heriot-Watt academics have contributed to the annual Edinburgh International Science Festival with an array of events examining what the future holds for food, technology and energy.
Professor Rory Duncan and Dr Paul Dalgarno, from the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS), introduced the amazing, largely untold, revolution that has taken place in the world of biological microscopy. From fluorescent jellyfish, to glow sticks, fundamental physics and engineering, they showed the audience how interdisciplinarity has allowed neurobiologists to see the breath-taking beauty inside working nerve cells.
Engineering the New Enlightenment
Dr Jonathan Leach, from the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (EPS), also focused his attention on light, it being the UN International Year of Light. Jonathan took part in ‘Engineering the New Enlightenment’, which explored how light engineering is opening up unknown and far-reaching possibilities. Scientists, engineers and technicians are performing cutting-edge research with light, using it to revolutionise communications, cure diseases and solve crimes
Energy Futures Debate
Professor Dorrik Stow, from the Institute of Petroleum Engineering (IPE), chaired a debate on Energy Futures, and was joined by Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer (EPS) and Professor Patrick Corbett (IPE). Discussions ranged from fracking to whether we should be telling third world countries to stop developing – hotly debated topics by the panel and audience.
Professor Corbett also took to the stage with other experts to discuss the controversial topic of North Sea oil. Questions included how much oil is really left in the North Sea, what is its value, and can we find a way to extract it all in a commercially and technologically viable way?
The future of food
And finally, from the School of Life Sciences, Dr Dean Sewell joined a panel to discuss what our food will look like in 2050. The panel debated whether changes will be gradual, or whether we will be eating insect burgers and synthetic meat within the next ten years. Enlightening, but slightly unappetising conversations ensued!