David Gross, the 2004 Nobel laureate for physics, predicts that in 50 to 100 years humanity will know the origins of the universe. But he said the interesting stuff could happen 1,000 years down the line including life spans doubling perhaps quadrupling, rapid evolution and the creation of new species.
Mr Gross is in Cambodia to deliver lectures about science and human development as part of the “Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” series.
“Science teaches us many things in addition to the nature of knowledge and providing technical tools. Science values tolerance, open-mindedness and transparency,” Mr Gross said in an interview yesterday. “The culture of science has no authority except for nature.”
He added science is open and tolerant because it has no dogma or political agenda, which allows it to promote values important to society without an ulterior motive.
Mr Gross, a US citizen, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004 for his discovery of “asymptotic freedom,” a property of quarks, particles within the subatomic particles that make up atoms, which are the building blocks of matter, to strengthen their bond when pulled apart but weaken as they move closer together. Mr Gross said it is a phenomenon because it goes against the law of nature, which states that bonds should weaken when there is more distance between the two objects.
Mr Gross said he first tackled the issue in graduate school because he was looking for a challenge.
“It was the hardest problem,” he said. “I couldn’t even imagine a solution.”
Mr Gross said during his lecture he covers topics such as the universal nature of science, the benefits of the scientific methods and his predictions for the future.
“In less than a lifetime, we will have all of the answers,” he said. “In 1,000 YEARS??, we will have new problems.”
Mr Gross is also optimistic about the next generation of scientists.
Mathematics, the basis of science, has no language barrier, which makes it easy for the sharing of ideas, he said. He added expensive equipment and capital is not the most important thing needed to raise scientists.
“Things change rapidly,” he said. “You just need to tap into the curiosity of young people.”
Mr Gross said because things are changing so quickly it leaves more questions and answers to be solved, interested young people are easy to educate and if nurtured properly, a country can create scientists.
“It’s possible for any country nowadays,” he added.
According to his Nobel biography, Mr Gross decided that he wanted to be a theoretical physicist before graduating high school.
Mr Gross said yesterday he always had an interest in science, mathematic puzzles and finding answers. So the choice of careers was obvious.
“I was always interested in using my own mind to solve problems,” he said. “I find it awfully exciting to learn and do it myself.”