UWG’s IMPACT program will host Nobel Prize-winning chemist Sir Harold Kroto for a public lecture on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Townsend Center on campus.
IMPACT (Improving Motivation, Performance and Attitudes of Children and Teachers) is a program funded by the Alice Huffard Richards Fund of the Community of West Georgia Foundation that seeks to increase the scientific literacy of the community, said Dr. Sharmistha Basu-Dutt, professor of chemistry at the university and director of IMPACT.
Basu-Dutt had attended a lecture by Kroto in Puerto Rico and thought his talk was one of the best that she had heard. So, when the university signed him on for a conference for science and math faculty, she asked him if he could give a public talk for the community as well.
“Initially, he was just coming for that conference, and that’s it, and then he would give a talk, a very scientific talk to the 100 or so university faculty,” Basu-Dutt said. “So, I kind of explained what our IMPACT program was about here ... and if he would be interested in giving a talk.”
Kroto was interested and agreed to give a lecture.
Bringing Kroto to the university is quite a coup.
“He is pretty much the father of modern science because nanotechnology is, that’s where the future of science engineering technology is going,” she said.
Kroto was the co-discoverer of C-60, a new form of carbon referred to as the Bucky Ball, for which he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996. His work has led to new discoveries in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is a new field of technology that while relatively unknown to the public, in the near future will vastly affect people’s lives. Nanotubes are very efficient conductors of electricity, and could increase the efficiency of electrical devices. The nanotubes also increase the strength of materials in which it is applied, so it could find its way into construction materials or clothing in the future.
“Five years down the road everything is probably going to be controlled (through nanotechnology) – there’s nanotechnology going to be used in medicines. There’s nanotechnology going to be used for electricity, for any kind of materials,” Basu-Dutt said. “So, we need to kind of alert not only current professionals but our future professionals.”
That’s why she felt it was important to invite him to speak not only to the faculty, but also to the community. His addresses, though, will be different. His speech to the public will be about the roles and responsibilities of science in society. The lecture is not for young children, she advised. The lecture is being advertised for people 10 years old and older.
The event fits right into the mission of IMPACT. Although, the program usually sponsors events aimed at children and teachers, it hopes to educate the entire community about how science affects their lives. Kroto’s message is for everyone, she said.
“He’s a very inspirational speaker,” Basu-Dutt said. “This is not going to be a scientific talk. ... It’s more about if you’re interested to know about sustaining the earth and the role that you have to play.”
Admission to the lecture is free, but those interested in attending need to pick up a ticket at the Townsend Center to attend. Tickets will be available beginning Feb. 12.