Nobel Laureate Visits Physics

30 September 2011

Sir Harold (Harry) Kroto will be a special visitor to the School of Physics next week prior to giving a special Sydney Ideas presentation on Tuesday 4 October from 6.30pm in the Eastern Ave Auditorium.

Sir Harry will be discussing the future of nanoscience with the School's physicists. The visit is timely given the School will commence the building of the Australian Institute of Nanoscience (AIN) in the near future.

Sir Harold Kroto, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, is presenting a Sydney Ideas lecture at the University of Sydney on his belief that science education is essential to society's future success and survival.

"Since Galileo humankind has come to accept the overwhelming importance of evidence to determine what is considered true with any degree of reliability," Sir Harry said.

"The 18th century's Age of Enlightenment resulted in this doubt-based philosophy flourishing. Our society has been the inheritor of the myriad scientific benefits, from penicillin to electricity, from computers to nanoscience of the applications of evidence-based science."

According to Sir Harry our current society is grappling with the worrying appearance of an anti-scientific movement as well as the uncovering of alarming problems, many of them environmental, related to scientific progress.

"In the light of this there is only one hope and that is to better educate the next generation to ensure they have better understanding of what we know, and how we come to know."

"It is for this reason that I have spent recent years exploring how the internet can be used to improve education, in particular, science, engineering and technology education."

Sir Harry created the Vega Science Trust which streams science programs. More recently he set up Global Educational Outreach for Science, Engineering and Technology (GEOSET).

"This enables educators, wherever they are, to contribute to a free globally accessible cache of teaching material," he says.

"The site uses new technology to provide material created by leading science and technology experts and educators from around the world. My involvement in science education and education generally is born out of my belief that while knowledge cannot guarantee good decisions, common sense suggests that wisdom is an unlikely consequence of ignorance."

Sir Harry is currently a Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry at Florida State University, where he is carrying out research in nanoscience and cluster chemistry as well as developing exciting new Internet approaches to STEM educational outreach.

In 1996 he was knighted for his contributions to chemistry and later that year was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and holds an Emeritus Professorship at the University of Sussex in Brighton, United Kingdom.

The Sydney Ideas talk is co-presented with the University of Sydney's School of Physics.