Can Science Change the World?

Many people will read my blog title, and without thinking say “Obviously. Penicillin, space flight, and don’t forget the Internet.”

But, those are the outcomes of science, not the actual science. That’s like saying a plate of spaghetti and meatballs is cooking. It’s not. That’s food. That’s the outcome of cooking.

Science, just like cooking, is a process. And a pretty damn tough one too. Weighing information, throwing out ideas that might seem great but the data won’t support it, finding holes in your logic, admitting when you don’t know enough or where you might be wrong. This is what science is actually all about.

Last week I got to watch science happen on a grand scale. The Waterloo Global Science Initiative, hosted at the Perimeter Institute, brought together dozens of scientists and policymakers from around the world to hash out some ideas on how to solve the energy problem we are now facing.

You can read all about my experiences at the Equinox Summit here, and of course check out the Communique that was finally produced.

But, what I found most surprising and inspiring about the Equinox Summit is that science is not a cold, calculating machine. It’s a people thing. It relies on the knowledge, passions, and visions of people.

If I had to bet on a single project after the Equinox Summit, I wouldn’t bet on engineered geothermal systems, thorium nuclear generators, or smart grids. I would bet on the innovative power of smart people doing sound science.Ā Individual projects and technologies may fail, but the people who believe in a better world never do.

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