While the world wants flashy quick fixes for everything, especially massive threats like coronavirus and global warming, next week’s Nobel laureates remind us that in science, slow and steady pays off.
It may soon do it again.
The science builds on earlier work, with thinkers “standing on the shoulders of giants,” as Isaac Newton put it, and begins with basic research to understand a problem before solving it. It’s the kind of basic science that Nobel Prizes usually award, often years or decades after a discovery, because it can take so long to realize the implications.
The slow and steady success in science has made researchers confident in the fight against the pandemic. It even offers a glimmer of climate optimism.
Many years of advances in basic molecular science, some of them already Nobel Prize winners, have provided the world with tools for rapid virus identification and accelerated test development. And now they tease us with the prospect of COVID-19 treatments and eventually a vaccine, perhaps within months.
“This could be the best time for science. It could be the time when we deliver, not just to the nation but to the world, the miracle that will save us,” he said geophysical vaccines that would normally take years can be developed in a year. or not, and “it was all built on the basis of the basic scientific advances that have been developed over the past three decades,” McNutt said.
He pointed to gene sequencing and polymerase chain reaction, which allows for multiple copying of precise DNA segments. This latest discovery won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, said the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics astrophysicist, but was also the product of an accident in which a researcher was lasered in the eye, microbiologist Rita Colwell said. former head of the National Science Foundation of the United States.
And those lasers used concepts that date back to Albert Einstein, Royal British astronomer Martin Rees said.
John Mather, who in 2006 won the Nobel Prize in Physics for Cosmology, which is the study of the origin of the universe and is therefore the latest basic science, said that almost everything we use around us is there. thanks to basic science.
“Engineers and entrepreneurs use this knowledge to build commercial empires,” he said. “Doctors use what they find to develop new treatments. Architects build homes with modern materials. Airplanes are designed at the edge of what’s possible. Cars are also completely dependent on basic science.”
But some people don’t make that connection. Adam Riess, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and Tyson said this is especially evident when people who deny climate science or vaccine efficacy do so while reaching fellow non-believers on smartphones and research. on Google made possible thanks to basic scientific research.
“Maybe, maybe science needs a PR agent, okay?” Tyson said in an interview. “Perhaps with a new scientific breakthrough in a way that affects the results of your life, the TV commercials say,” Did you know? This thing you’re using was invented here in this lab by this person. And it was brought to market by this company. And now you are using it and enjoying it. “Stop in silence.” You’re welcome. “”
As for solving climate change, Mexican chemist Mario Molina hopes the world can solve the problem thanks to the work that led to his Nobel Prize in 1995.
He and others found that industrial chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons were reaching heights in the atmosphere and denting Earth’s protective ozone layer. He discovered this many years before an ozone hole developed over Antarctica.
His work and opening the hole led to an international agreement in 1987 to ban those chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, and the hole began to shrink. Now Molina hopes that kind of action can be applied to what he calls the “climate emergency”.
“That’s why I’m optimistic. Because we have an example of a global problem where virtually every country on the planet has agreed to work together. The ozone layer is healing. It takes some time,” Molina said. “But it works, slowly. So it can be done.”
The Nobel Prize winning work is concentrated in a minority of scientific fields
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Nobel laureates and COVID-19: slow, basic science could pay off (2020, October 3)
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