ESF General Assembly: new image, new physics and new secretary general
Dec 1, 1997
The European Science Foundation (ESF) must adopt different approaches when dealing with different audiences, its president Sir Dai Rees told the 27th ESF General Assembly in Strasbourg.
A number of new research projects in physics were also announced and Enric Banda, former secretary of state for universities and research in Spain, was confirmed as the foundation's next secretary general.
In particular, Rees advised, scientists cannot expect to convince the public of the benefits of science using only scientific logic. "The result is likely to be irritation and hostility rather than sympathy and understanding. Rees also called for the ESF "to break really new ground in the advancement of science or in building new bridges between emergent disciplines." This focus on the health of science would be complementary to the European Union's approach, which concentrates on the practical benefits to be obtained from science.
Twelve new scientific programmes were also approved in Strasbourg, including six in the physical sciences. These are: electronic structure calculations for solids and surfaces; Fermi-liquid instabilities in correlated metals; molecular magnets; nanomagnetism and growth processes on vicinal surfaces; probabilistic methods in non-hyperbolic dynamics; and structure and manipulation of nanostructures. Other new programmes with a physics theme include studies of environmental pollution in groundwater systems and the response of the Earth to impact processes.
The ESF is also looking for proposals for new programmes in the following areas: chemical and physical systems at extremes ("breaking the nanometre and femtosecond barriers"); novel materials and complex molecules; nonlinear dynamics; advanced computing; and complex technologies and technical systems.