This morning six of our keen scientists Riya Adamjee; Sibo Cheng; Sneha Shah; Ricky Savva; Jetheesan Sivasubramaniam; and Rachel Shamtoob were invited to The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee of the House of Commons. It was an interesting way to find out how this all-party committee keep on top of the changes that are happening in science. Professor Alan Malcom explained that when there were bills going through parliament that were about science or technology he invited scientists to come and give short talks to the MPS about their research before they were discussed in parliament so that the MPs could make informed decisions.
This committee meeting was to celebrate the topic of light and the students, along with the MPs and other members of the committee heard some varied and stimulating talks from famous scientists including “Star Light” by Rob Massey,( Royal Astronomical Society) “Photonics and Communication” by Professor Sir David Payne, University of Southampton; “Light Emitting Diodes” by Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, University of Cambridge. The morning was completed by lectures about “Illumination for Africa” by Susie Wheeldon, Solar Aid and ‘ Illuminating light in medical diagnostics and treatment” by Dr John Allen and Dr Elizabeth Benson, before they were entertained to a buffet lunch hosted by Andrew Miller MP.
I think the students were surprised that one talk moved smoothly to the next without a break for two and a half hours as they were given a lot of information about how the science of light has changed all lives and is going to continue to do so in the future. The morning ended with a question about whether the balance was right between curiosity and application in the research that was taking place today and the answer given was they were ‘always tied together.’
At the end of the morning everyone was much more aware of the importance of light. Our students had been convinced by Professor Sir David Payne that it was time to tell their parents to change their lights to LEDs and aware that the electrical savings were so great (about 10 percent) that not only would it be a saving for the family but the country. It would mean fewer power stations would need commissioning and there would be increased wealth and heath for the country. He took the time to come and speak to them at the end over the buffet lunch and inspire them to get involved in using their scientific skills to solve the problems for their generation. This morning we heard how the best of our scientists have led the world to do that in the sphere of Astronomy, communications, medicine and lighting. Yet we also heard from Susie Wheeldon who works for Solar Aid to bring solar lights to Africa. She reminded everyone present that the gift of light could bring safety, education and progress to many of the areas that needed it most. Our students were touched by her message as well and they tell me they will share it with other students when they get back to college.
This morning reminded us about a lot of important British values:
• The need to see a problem and want to solve it to bring a better standard of life to everyone,
• the importance of hard work and study yet seeing the obvious sense of satisfaction and fulfillment it can bring ,
• the importance to make informed decisions and fulfilling your responsibilities,
Our students seemed keen to share some of the ideas they had heard so watch this space as they ‘spread the light’.