The planet’s wellbeing and human health in focus in this year’s Celsius-Linnaeus Lectures
What is our planet’s breaking point? How can we develop electronic systems that are compatible with human biology? At this year’s Celsius-Linnaeus Lectures on 9 February, Professor Johan Rockström and Professor John Rogers will be presenting research findings that may have a very real impact on the future of the Earth and humanity.
Here, hosts from Uppsala University offer a foretaste of what we can expect from the lectures:
“Today, six of nine planetary boundaries have been exceeded”
The 2023 Celsius lecturer is Johan Rockström, professor in water systems and global sustainability at Stockholm University and Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Professor Rockström’s host is Giuliano Di Baldassarre, professor of surface water hydrology and environmental analysis at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University.
What will Johan Rockström be talking about?
“He will be talking about various planetary boundaries and how we are quickly approaching biophysical tipping points that, should they be exceeded, will have irreversible, self-reinforcing effects on earth systems. This is not simply a matter of climate change but also loss of biodiversity, new substances that cause chemical pollution, shortages of fresh water and many other challenges facing humanity. He will also be addressing how we can engage in society. What can we do to bring the scientific progress to the attention of politicians?”
Johan Rockström has been talking about threats to the planet’s ecosystem for a long time, and about how various processes can have devastating consequences if they reach climate system thresholds, or tipping points. Is there any hope of reversing developments and, if so, how?
“In addition to providing an understanding of the planet’s boundaries, Johan Rockström will be addressing how one can act in a democratic arena. When it comes to global issues, every country has its own system and therefore different ways of navigating political processes. Given Johan Rockström’s long experience, I believe he can offer us an important perspective on this field. Personally, I think we should not feel hopeless but strive for changes towards safety and justice.
"In the subsequent panel discussion, we will talk about what we scientists can achieve together with decision-makers and politicians, as well as with the public. In the end, I believe that the most important thing is public awareness and consensus; without that, it will be very difficult to stimulate the interest of politicians.”
Do you have any specific questions that you want to ask Johan Rockström?
“I will to ask him whether he has any advice for the new generation of researchers: our master’s and doctoral students who will attend the lectures at the Eva von Bahr Hall. At the beginning of an academic career, most of us believe that producing good scientific results will be beneficial for society. Yet, it is not really how it works; there are many steps along the way. As the moderator of the panel discussion, I aim to have a debate about these processes at the interface between science and policy.”
“Electronic ‘tattoos’ provide fantastic security in healthcare”
The 2023 Linnaeus lecturer is John Rogers, Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Medicine at Northwestern University and Director of the Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics, Illinois, USA.
John Rogers is being hosted by Klas Hjorth, professor of materials science and director of the Division of Microsystems Technology at Uppsala University.
Why should one come and listen to John Rogers?
“He is the chemist who, thanks to his understanding of soft materials such as polymers, liquid crystals and biological tissues has succeeded in combining them with unusual classes of micro/nanomaterials in the form of ribbons, wires, membranes, tubes and the like. He then uses them to build advanced electronic systems and materials that can be implanted in the human body or attached to the skin in patches that stick and stretch like a temporary tattoo. The point of this technology is that it does not irritate the body but is well-adapted, flexible and completely integrated with the tissue.”
How can this revolutionary technology be used?
“One example is monitoring premature babies. If they are equipped with this contact technology, they can be carried by another human instead of being confined to an incubator on life support. This means that the child’s development can be improved astonishingly, both physically and cogitatively. These surveillance systems are incredibly thin, soft and breathable, at the same time as being highly competent electronics. This provides fantastic security for both parents and the healthcare provider.
"John Rogers has also done very exciting work on improving energy transfer and new optical materials. For example, transfer printing, where small stamps are pressed against an electronic circuit so that the entire circuit sticks to the stamps. The circuit can then be moved to another place, such as a thin, flexible latex material.”
Do you have any specific questions that you want to ask John Rogers?
“Yes, less than 10 years ago John left a large university where he had amazing resources to a new higher education institution, and not only that, he also moved from chemistry and engineering to medicine. This must have been enormously costly at a time when he was in the midst of fantastic development in his research. Even if I have some idea of the answer, I would very much like to know what caused him to move his operation.
"Otherwise, I am very much looking forward to discussing some fascinating discoveries and technologies that will allow us to continue working with medical technology for the good of humanity, and that will provide us with better support when we become sick and old.”
FACTS CELSIUS-LINNAEUS LECTURES
Each year, the Faculty of Science and Technology at Uppsala University arranges lectures in memory of Anders Celsius and Carl Linnaeus. This year’s chosen lecturers are researchers whose cutting-edge and highly topical findings have not only attracted the attention of the scientific community but also enormous public interest.
This year’s lectures and accompanying symposium will be held at the Eva von Bahr Lecture Hall at the Ångström Laboratory in Uppsala on 9 February from 09:00 to 16:15.
The lectures are open to anyone with an interest, no registration required.