While we go about our daily affairs, there is a group which is quite different in approach and thinking – they are scientists. Spend some time with a group of scientists and it would be natural to reflect on life quite differently.
Being in the company of 80 scientists from different countries meant life on planet earth was going to be different.
The Fourth Science and Technology Exchange Program (STEP) in Islamic countries, jointly hosted by Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and Mustafa Science and Technology Foundation, is being held at SQU.
Meeting internationally renowned scientist Prof Jackie Ying from Singapore, a celebrity in the world of science and an expert on nanotechnology, meant it was time to understand that this technology was going to change how we perceive the field of medicine.
There was a discussion that was going on with such intensity that the topic could have been politics or football. So when it was my chance to talk, the obvious question was what were they talking about. The answer was simple – nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology is the mainstream now, dealing with cancer treatments to cosmetics that could fight wrinkles. The world is changing and the health challenges are different from yesteryears. So are the solutions.
Listen to scientists talk about renewable energy. Also found out the best thing the common man could do is save electricity. “Do we really need to have air-conditioners this cold?” asked Dr Shaukat Khan from the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH).
Throughout history, civilisations have revolved around water. Having sustainable supply of water in this part of the world is critical and essential for sustainable development.
Finding solutions because of uncertainty as there are no rivers, the one source we are certain about is the sea. Finding a cheaper way to produce clean water from sea would be the ultimate solution. That is exactly what Dr Adel Sharif, Chair in Water Engineering and Process Innovation, University of Surrey, and his team is working on.
“We are working on how to make desalinated seawater more energy-efficient and cheaper in terms of capital and energy costs. For obvious reasons, we cannot rely on fossil fuel as it has its challenges. Renewable energy has some constraints in terms of cost, availability and reliability; we turned to ultimate source of energy that has very little or no constraints geographically or climatically, and that is gravity,” said Dr Sharif.
It could be revolutionary if gravity can be harnessed to produce clean water and power.
“If you had asked a person a few years ago about mobile technology, he would have called it magic. If you were to describe a plane a few 100 years ago, they would have said the same thing – magic. Man has always made things possible that was not available in the previous generations. So do not be surprised if we are able to harness gravity for power generation. We believe it would be less complex than iPhone or aeroplane. This would be my contribution to the younger and future generation,” he said.
Dr Sharif would like to bring it to the world as soon as they get enough support to make it happen. As of now, the technical details are confidential.
Request a scientist for directions and he is not going to tell you the fifth turn to your right. When asked for instructions, a scientist advised, “Walk about 100 metres and then to your right.”
In other words, even perceptions and descriptions vary when it comes to scientists. When we complain about mood swings and stress, scientists are busy with what they love – their passion to discover and invent.