DISLAIMER: THESE ARE MY NOTES. THIS IS NOT A TRANSCRIPTION. IF YOU ARE FROM THE PRESS DO NOT QUOTE THIS AS SPOKEN QUOTES. I’M SHARING MY NOTES WITH EVERYONE TO GIVE SOME COLOR TO THE EVENT. THERE ARE TONS OF LITTLE ERRORS IN HERE, BUT I’M GIVING UP PERFECTION FOR SPEEDTHAT IS THE NATURE OF BLOGS!!
A Discussion with Nobel Laureates in Medicine and Science
Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel Laureate, Physics, 1969; Distinguished Fellow, Santa Fe Institute
Moderator: Michael Milken, Chairman, Milken Institute; Chairman, Faster Cures / The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions; co-Founder, Milken Family Foundation
Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate, Physics, 1997; Chair, Department of Physics, Stanford University; Theodore and Frances Geballe Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Stanford University
Gerald Edelman, Nobel Laureate, Medicine, 1972; Director, Neurosciences Institute; Chairman, Department of Neurobiology, Scripps Research Institute
Edelman discussed how we are at an extraordinary point in the arc of science because we are starting to understand, from neuroscience, consciousness. He talked about the billions of interconnections in the brain. We can now measure what happens in our brains, through the magnetic currents, when an object is entered into your consciousness.
Gell-Mann: After Jerry did his dissertation on the importance of consciousness and advances in science that evolution breaks down to one thing “Get food, yes. Be food, no.” (big laugh.)
Milken showed an emotional video clip of Galileo renouncing everything he had taughtthe sun being the center of universe.
Gell-Mann: When a wrong principle is believed it shuts off a lot avenues of thinking.
Steven Chu discussed fighting diseases. He showed a slide of deaths by infectious diseases, and how policy to avoid the spread of them and to find cures makes them more manageable. He said the government might not be spending our disease-fighting money correctly.
Milken: How would you spend it.
Steven Chu: Most should be going to prevention, once someone has AIDS the treatment is very expensive and there is no cure. He showed another slide regarding the high-costs of AIDS drugs.
Chu: Explained a policy to fight AIDS called “ABC.” Abstinence before marriage, Be faithful during marriage, and then use Condoms. He discussed what a problem it was to not promote condom use early on and that it was primarily a religious issue.
Murry: The religious extreme is causing an extreme amount of damage in many different ways. He pointed out a number of examples of religious extremists attacking science including condom use and the use of stem cells. The attack on scientific theory is another one (problem.) He examined how the Supreme Court might rule differently these days on science issues. He railed on post-modern, post-intelligent (big laugh) professors at universities who look at science as a popularity contest. In Government is it necessary that scientific advice be relatively free. The government should tolerate reports by scientists they have brought in, and not suppress those reports.
Chu: Discussed an example of this, especially how the White House is ignoring studies on global warming. The reports showed that the earth is definitely warming up over two or three reports and these reports were dismissed.
Murry: Gave an anecdote about how his science committee for Nixon was disbanded. He discussed working with Gore and Clinton with the committee.
Edelman: Discussed the virtues of being on the West Coast, and how it is easier to raise a family on the West Coast.
Milken asked Chu about the effect of 9/11 on students coming to Universities.
Chu: The number of students, grad and post-doc in particular, is dramatically decreasing. They are basically being hassled, so they are simply saying they can’t put up with us and they are going to Europe now.
Milken: Do we need to rethink our fuel sources?
Chu: Discussed how wind was far ahead of solar.
The panel discussed the water issue, and Chu pointed out a rumor he heard that Coca-Cola was buying up water sources in the Amazon in case there is a shortage. They pointed out the major issue was getting the water to the people who needed it.
The panel discussed issues around global population and pointed out that education for women is the best way to control population growth.
Edleman talked about interdisciplinary work as a key to success of the human race in the future.
Great panel overall, again so high-level that many in the audience had a hard time getting their minds wrapped around it.