Scientific research is the only guarantee of health. But how will he heal us tomorrow? The answer came, from the 2023 Salute Festival stage, from Serge HarocheFrench physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2012 (jointly with the American David Wineland) to discover experimental methods that allowed measurement and manipulation of individual quantum systems. Detailed response to comments made by the manager Republic Maurizio Molinari. Starting with basic research, which according to the Nobel laureate “politicians do not appear to fully appreciate.”
“It is clear that even in applying the tools that change our lives, we need basic science – said Harush -. There will be no applied science without basic science. This is a problem because politicians do not show proper attention to this aspect.”
Motivating basic science
It is not just resources that matter, but curiosity is the driving force in looking to the future of science applied to health. “Science is driven by curiosity, it comes from discoveries because you cannot attract young people without this basic condition – explained Haroush – so there is not only the monetary and financial aspect. Because without basic science we would not have applications such as lasers, computers, GPS.”
Speaking about studies and applications related to light, in which research and instrumentation play a fundamental role, the professor explained his thoughts on the unusual relationship between physics and medicine. “This is true for light, but also, for example, for magnetic resonance imaging, which has revolutionized medical knowledge – explained the scientist -. Thanks to them we can implant electrodes in the human brain. The light that penetrates illuminates the brain and activates the molecules that make it work. “This is derived specifically from basic scientific studies.”
But there is a hitch. If scientific and technological progress plays an essential role in social progress, and also in improving health, it is public opinion that creates friction and often reveals itself in doubt. Many do not trust science.
How can we reverse this approach?” “It’s a real paradox,” Haroche replied. “Now that science has led us to fundamental discoveries, such as pandemic vaccines, and developed solutions to mitigate climate change, a feeling of mistrust is emerging.” “People no longer feel protected, and perhaps this is also “As a result of globalization. It may also depend on the spread of the Internet, which creates fake news and favors this approach.” He continued: “This is difficult for the world to understand. I am very concerned about this trend because it is having the opposite effect. We have many challenges and only science can help us confront them.”
Educate yourself in science
How do you fix it? By spreading scientific culture, but above all by education. For Haroche there is no doubt: “What role can the media play in providing information about the world of science? So as to provoke a debate that can allow a better understanding? Doctors have a role, but before that the problem is that,” he stressed, “education and education.” We must have a better system in schools. Children should understand how science can lead to progress, deepen the relationship between theory and practice, and try to understand what happens when models are built, and whether they are predictive.”
When he talks about education, the Nobel laureate refers to “primary schools, secondary schools, and the university.” He specified: “I see a decline in scientific education also because teachers cannot be found, since they are often not well paid. They should be paid more appropriately.”
Dialogue between science, technology and great powers
The film also talked about the importance of dialogue between science and technology Oppenheimer Regarding the role they play in the confrontation with the great powers. This film reminds us of the consequences of linking politics and science. Given this, how concerned is Haroche about scientists losing their independence? He explained on the stage of the Salute Festival that “science can be used in a positive or negative way.” Oppenheimer He clearly says that when his colleagues developed the atomic bomb, the goal was to implement the project as quickly as possible, but then the situation got out of control.
“However, science means the acquisition of knowledge and it cannot be avoided – continued the Nobel laureate -. It is impossible not to delve deeply into some issues. An example is artificial intelligence, which no one can stop, but must stop.” “It will be regulated with more stringent rules so that the applications and consequences are not negative.”
Investments and competition between the United States and Europe
Haroche then also expressed his opinion on any differences between the United States and Europe in the field of investments allocated to basic research. He said, “Certainly with regard to investments, for example with the recent Nobel Prize, Europe is able to compete – he said -. It is true that there are countries that invest more, such as China, but it is also true that they do not do so.” “We have a free civilization, so scientists cannot have moral judgments like us. In essence, we can still compete.”
So, is it possible to achieve better cooperation between scientists? “It is necessary to improve the aspect of research and its application,” the expert said. “This must also happen between different countries, with different experiences and cultures. It is important that knowledge is transferred into practical practice. In this regard, the United States of America is ahead of Europe, and I think For example in the birth of startups.”
Quantum physics and medicine
Haroche’s predictions also impact quantum physics and studies of medicine. “What do I expect in this field? I am not a specialist in applying physics to medicine – he explained -. Quantum devices can also develop very precise measurement methods. Such as laser devices, which now have very close and precise pulses, which “brought one of the Nobel Prizes that was Just give it. In this way we can explain physiological processes that could have applications in the medical field.” “In particular, for quantum biology, the topic is controversial, because these phenomena often occur at very low temperatures, so it is difficult to prove an effect on Cellular level. But molecules certainly cannot be understood without quantum physics.”
Studies on light
Returning to studies related to light, the Nobel laureate explained the meaning and possibilities that could arise from these discoveries. “Light is important for obtaining information about the outside world – he said -. We look at ourselves and that is exactly what light allows us to do. Most information is transmitted through it: I am talking about lasers and optical fibers, “things that happen in the network and allow us to communicate in real time.” Real. However, they are fragile applications that must be protected from external attacks. All communication in our technological and non-technological world depends on the exchange between light and matter.”
“A long time ago there was the worship of light, before there was science, before the worship of the sun, because it was understood that everything was derived from that,” he continued. “Therefore, we can say that light is the best tool we have used as we have to communicate with different worlds, it is a tool.” A global connection, and we also use them in biological applications and medicine (using lasers to treat eyes).
I tell young people: Science is a great adventure.”
Haroche is a Nobel Prize winner, and many are studying his books and discoveries. But what do you know that others don’t? “A difficult question,” he commented. “When I was young, one of my teachers told me that young scientists feel overwhelmed by all the knowledge they have to acquire. I tell them: You don’t have to learn everything, but one thing and very well.” This is the meaning of research: focus. On a topic, a small step. Science is a wonderful adventure. “When you do science you feel like you are part of a great adventure.” “For me, science is this, and I think all my colleagues see it that way,” he concluded. “As a scientist, I have the honor of appreciating great artists and what they have done.”
“Infuriatingly humble social media buff. Twitter advocate. Writer. Internet nerd.”