Nobel Laureate Sir Harry Kroto was the feature speaker at the Ferst Center on Nov. 4. The event was the latest stop on Sir Kroto’s global lecture circuit sponsored by the Honeywell Science Initiative Lecture Series.
Kroto discussed his early life and what motivated him to be a scientist. He then gave a brief overview of his research and his ground breaking discovery of the fullerene. As well, he discussed theological and political issues and criticized the present state of research and education. Kroto’s and his colleague’s work in stumbling upon fullerene provided a base for the development of future technological achievements such as nanotechnology.
“People are built bottom up from nanotechnology,” Kroto said. “However, there is a level of ignorance of nanotechnology by the public.”
Kroto was also adamant in his views of the current state of education and how research is conducted, comparing it to his earlier days at university without restrictions.
“I was very fortunate not to be controlled as professors in England now are and professors here,” he added. “Universities now have to do all these things and outside organizations say you have to know exactly what you’re doing.”
He stressed the importance of studying science and asserted the how discovery affects people’s lives even for those outside of the domain.
“This goes very deeply because people outside of science think science is only important if it is useful and so you have to tell people what you’re doing and besides you can’t even know about that. In fact when you discover something surprising which you didn’t know anything about, that’s the important science.”
The final segment of Kroto’s lecture focused on the humanitarian aspects of science. He stressed his discomfort in science’s role in the development of weapons such as napalms and land mines and then alluded to Joseph Rotblat, a physicist for the Manhattan project.
The lecture concluded with an impassioned plea for people to strongly consider these humanitarian concerns and work towards a better, more peaceful future. For more information about Kroto and to see more lectures should visit or .