Ever increasing energy demands are a challenge for us all. Solid state physicists need to continue their ongoing development of solar cells so they can generate even more electricity from the same amount of sunlight and step up the quest for room temperature superconductors. Superconducting electrical cables would offer almost no resistance to the flow of electric current, whereas the resistance provided by conventional cables means they lose a proportion of the electricity they carry as heat. In the meantime we should persist with trying to make electrical wires from carbon nanotubes that can carry a thousand times more electricity than copper with little loss.
With regard to what issues society should be addressing in the next 18 years, how about creating true equality - at least in the workplace? Having been on the receiving end of both negative and positive discrimination – and finding the latter even more annoying than the former - I would like to see society moving towards a world containing neither.
In my fantasy society, true equality would give everyone an equal chance to pursue the education and career of their choosing without any form of harassment. A work colleague of a particular faith would not be expected to become some sort of spokesperson for their entire religion in response to an international news story. A valuable member of staff would not miss out on promotion opportunities because their disability prevented them from networking at after-hours social functions. And a person’s background or romantic liaisons would be regarded for what they are - facts totally unrelated to their ability to do their job.
Do I think we’ll ever achieve this? Well, it’s up to many of you out there to start behaving differently. You know who you are, and you know you can do it. Go on, I dare you.
Sharon Ann Holgate is coauthor of The Way Science Works (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See her website.