• Question: What is your life goal/dream. Is it science related or something completly different?

    Asked by flow14 to Jack, Laurence on 23 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Laurence Harwood

      Laurence Harwood answered on 23 Mar 2012:


      My life goal is science related – and I know this sounds a bit pretentious but I really do want to do something that helps humanity.

      At last I think I may be near achieving that goal because my research has led to the discovery of compounds that can be used to remove the radioactive elements from spent nuclear fuel. These can then be put into a different kind of nuclear reactor where they can be converted to non-radioactive elements. This removes most of the problem of the so called “nuclear legacy” that we are currently generating every time we decommission a nuclear reactor – as the radioactive waste, if left untreated, will remain dangerously radioactive for millions of years.

      If nuclear power can become clean in this way we have a very low carbon footprint means of generating electricity so we can really start to address trying to turn round global warming. In addition, if clean energy becomes almost limitless (we have huge stocks of potential nuclear fuel) then generating drinking water from sea water by a process called “reverse osmosis” can be used on a much larger scale and clean drinking water can become available to everybody. Not only will this massively improve the standard of living for millions of people (less disease), there is a very real prospect of countries actually going to war over water rights in the future if we continue consuming fresh water at the rate we are doing currently.

      This might seem like I am dreaming but I have high hopes that all this might now become possible as a result of my chemical discoveries and I will have done my little bit to help humanity. I have my fingers crossed.

    • Photo: Jack Snape

      Jack Snape answered on 23 Mar 2012:


      The next big fusion device is called ITER – it’s currently being built in the South of France. Its going to be switched on in 2019 and I’d love to be there to see it happen. If the experiment works it will mean cheap, clean energy for the human race for millions of years. That would be great thing to be part of! 🙂

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