Science is at the very core of our everyday lives. Virtually everything we know, every comfort we enjoy – from smartphones to painkillers – is a direct result of scientific endeavour.
Today we celebrate World Science Day for Peace & Development. Set up by UNESCO in 2001, the 10th November is a moment to stop and think about all that science has given us, and how relevant research is to prosperity, peace and the planet.
And because science affects all of us, it is vital that we involve everyone in the discourse on research and its aims. From teachers, to politicians, to scientists themselves, today is an opportunity for all of us to shout from the rooftops about all that science has and will continue to achieve.
World Science Day really is an opportunity for Diamond to shine! We’ll have BBC broadcasts from the synchrotron, an online campaign highlighting ways in which science is helping to change lives, and the launch of a new edition of the free popular science magazine, Inside Diamond
, covering recent work on an Ebola vaccine, mental health drugs and insights into the solar system.
Our scientists will also be taking to the radio, television and social media to speak directly with the public about their work.
Diamond user, Fiona Marshall, will be speaking about her search for new drugs for Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and other neurological diseases. Using structure-based drug design, Fiona and her team from Heptares Therapeutics are using Diamond to develop the next generation of pioneering medicines.
In a world first, Heptares have successfully used Diamond to scrutinise the atomic structure of receptors in the brain that affect mood, learning and behaviour, and are linked to neurological disorders. Their findings have enabled scientists to design potential drug molecules that fit perfectly with the receptors, modulating their effects and potentially combatting neurological disease.
But it’s not just our health that stands to benefit from pioneering synchrotron research. We’ve all struggled with an old phone or laptop that can’t hold a charge. And so scientists like Zoe Schnepp are using the machine to study the long-term atomic processes behind cathode degradation – one of the key causes behind battery failure.
Today, Zoe will be spreading the word about how this work could eventually help us to replace dodgy batteries with better ones that last longer.
World Science Day is all about recognising the global significance of science and the importance of sharing knowledge across borders. And in keeping with this international perspective, we’ll also be showcasing research into developing new and improved vaccines.
Dave Stuart and Abhay Kotecha will be on hand to discuss their recent work on an advanced new synthetic vaccine for foot and mouth disease virus: a disease of livestock that is a major cause of poverty in central Africa and the parts of the Middle East and Asia, where the virus is endemic.
By recreating the atomic outer structure of the virus, without including any of the nasty viral material that sits inside the shell, the scientists have developed a means of making a vaccine that is safer, cheaper and more effective. And what’s more, the same methodology is now being used by scientists from the UK and USA to target viruses from the same family, including polio.
Research like this is changing lives for the better. And here at Diamond, we’re proud of the impact that we and other science centres have on the world around us.
Scientific endeavour has shaped us as a people and will continue to be vital to our future. So today we celebrate how far we’ve already come, and how far we still have to go in expanding our knowledge, nurturing innovation and creating a better world.