Internationally renowned human rights campaigner and activist, Dr Vandana Shiva qualified in quantum physics, but now devotes most of her time to issues surrounding biodiversity. She is deeply sceptical about what lies at the heart of scientific developments, especially when driven by multi-national corporations.
Don Braben is a Visiting Professor in Geology at University College, London. Don has spent many years as an advisor to the British government and is a keen supporter of free-thinking science. He believes that bureaucracy and funding needs are stifling scientific enterprise.
For actor, poet, performer and film-maker, Mat Fraser, science is to blame for creating a generation of people born with shortened limbs. The drug, Thalidomide, was initially launched as a sleeping pill, but was later found to help women suffering from morning sickness. An estimated 8000 people are living with thalidomide disabilities.
Mario Petrucci is a physicist and Poet in Residence for BBC Radio 3. We asked him to write a poem about science:
ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE
(The joule is the formal unit of work or energy)
One hundred thousand trillion joules
to turn an ice cap into mush
One hundred thousand billion joules
to erase a major Eastern city
A hundred thousand million joules
to run a car to death
One hundred million of the same
for Fire Brigades to reach the kitten
Ten million just to keep
December from cold feet
A hundred thousand joules for a mug
A hundred joules
for a second's worth of War and Peace
Ten to raise a hand - to lift
an average apple to the lips
A single joule to shout the command
Half a joule to pull the trigger
Just one tenth to push the button
Almost zero to have the thought.
You can read more about science and the public trust on the web:
Has the Genetically Modified Food debate harmed the way the public view scientists? Or is the problem that we need to improve Scientists' understanding of the public before we can expect the public to understand scientists?
This edition of The Big Question was first broadcast on 8th May 2004
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