Scientists from Britain and Israel met in London this week to discuss the challenges of finding alternative sources of energy amid the threat of global warming.
Professors and students from the Weizmann Institute and Imperial College, London held a two-day conference to explore the possibilities of solar energy.
The event, hosted by the charity Weizmann UK, culminated in a public session attracting several hundred, with a panel including Professor John Beddington, the government’s chief scientific adviser, and Lord Hunt, the Minister of State for sustainable development and energy innovation.
Professor Gary Hodes, a member of the Weizmann team, who emigrated from Belfast in the early 1970s, said the conference “Is “important for two reasons. It gives us opportunities we might not otherwise have for collaborations.
“It is also important ‘politically’ to show that the boycott is not universal and that there are institutions interested in positive collaboration.”
Keynote speaker Professor Vernon Gibson, BP’s chief chemist, highlighted rising energy demand by a world population that is expected to increase from 6.3 to 8.9 billion by 2050.
Outlining various options from wind to solar energy, and carbon capture — which means storing carbon dioxide emissions rather than allowing them to escape into the atmosphere — he said: “There are no silver bullets, no single solution to the problems we are trying to address.”
While greater energy efficiency and changes in consumer lifestyle might help, there was widespread agreement that the key for the future lay in technological research into new forms of energy. “Driving smaller cars and eating fewer steaks are not going to do it,” Professor Beddington remarked.
Weizmann president Professor Daniel Zajfman predicted that in future energy would belong to those with the technical know-how rather than those with natural reserves like oil.
Professor James Barber, Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial, offered the striking thought: “One hour of sunlight could produce all the energy we need in one year.”
lAround 200 academics from across the world attended a major conference on Hebrew language and culture in London this week.
The three-day event, attracting participants from the US, Canada, Israel, Australia and Europe, was organised by the Wisconsin-based National Association of Professors of Hebrew, and hosted by University College London.
Tsila Ratner, of UCL’s Hebrew and Jewish studies department, who chaired the conference, said: “This is the first time that NAPH has held its annual conference in Britain, actually the first time in any European university. In the current anti-Israeli climate, this is a major event.”