Discovering nuclear fusion, evolution of vaccinations and exciting global developments on all sorts of things from AI to climate recovery!
November 2021 – By Patrick McIntosh
Believe it or not German scientists discovered nuclear fusion in 1938 and published an open document for the world to review without realising the significance and the outcomes that would occur.
Two Jewish immigrants arrived in Birmingham University and set about evolving the science. By 1940 they realised the extraordinary potential for both hugely positive outcomes and massive total destruction.
Panic then set in as they worried about whether the Germans had also realised the extraordinary potential. Einstein then got involved and lobbied the American president for action.
The outcome was that in 27 months the world went from total ignorance to the creation of the first atomic bomb, the United States became one huge factory with 130,000 people involved in the creation.
Clearly the race was on. Not only did they fear that Germany may have the bomb, but that Russia might also be developing their own weapons and of course also the possibility the Japanese had their own ideas.
There were enormous experimental dilemmas, problems and setbacks but as we now know the outcome was both catastrophic and extraordinary in producing nuclear power stations. Ironically, because the Russians did develop their own nuclear bomb by spying on America, in the end the Korean War was not ended by nuclear explosion which could have been the situation, but for the fear that if America bombed the North, Russia would have bombed the South and the world would now be very different!
The above example tells us how quickly humans can evolve, adapt, develop, and overcome adversity when they are forced to do so. Although we are some way through the pandemic, we still have a long way to go. We can see the same elements of panic, competition and extraordinary speed of evolution that is now taking place in the development not just of virus vaccines, but also a whole range of medical science that has intentionally or unintentionally spun off from the desperate need to protect humanity from destruction.
Out of adversity comes positive outcomes and as we enter a winter of discontent, remember the bigger picture that the world constantly evolves and in time we will look back on this period in the same way as we do for the Second World War and marvel at the acceleration of understanding about how to survive, grow and look after ourselves.
This bulletin is based upon a radio program called “In our time”, on Radio 4, and the particular program was the “Manhattan Project” which you can download from BBC Sounds. It is well worth listening to!
Towards the end of July Google put all its results from Alpha Fold into the public domain for free, making the structure of almost all proteins in the human body available to medical research around the world. Aside from revolutionising medicine through much better understanding of the drivers of disease, the database will also enable the creation of more nutritious crops and even ‘green enzymes’ that could break down plastic in the world’s oceans and rivers. These are the types of AI driven developments that really excite us, and which open the door to a better cleaner world. We are excited to report this type of investment is held in your portfolio.
Climate, Poo and good news
Over the years I have often commented on the real fear, in major conurbations at the end of the 19th century, that horse manure and pollution would completely overwhelm cities, societies and normal life and then along came the combustion engine.
120 years later and here we are terrified by the prospects of carbon overwhelming us all and yet as with the above observations, the extraordinary evolution of subliminal change in us all, let alone what is going on in industry, commerce and behind the scenes in governments is incredible.
Sucking carbon out of the atmosphere, rapid increases in insulation, significant moves to reduce bad building materials such as cement, transformation in transportation, the rise of Iodine and Hydrogen in transportation (especially for ships and bulk items), the reduction in transportation around the world as we learn to grow and live local in our food supplies and our energy supplies are all changes that are happening now.
The extraordinary investment and the unbelievable opportunities for investment gain, human gain, and quality of life for us all will transform our lives.
It is right that we concentrate on the terrifying consequences of not attending to these matters and pretending that we can continue as we are on the basis that the next generation will sort it out. The delicious irony for me is that within 20 years I think we could become so incredibly efficient at carbon capture alongside the collapse of carbon distribution and may reverse the process unbelievably quickly.
The greatest threat to climate change comes from methane. This is the fastest pollution that can be corrected and recovered and as we move to revolutionise agriculture and food production so methane could be reversed in climate change within 10 years, indeed far more quickly than CO2.
Your portfolio is full of all sorts of exciting ideas around the future from sustainable foods to efficient cities and everything in between. It will be a rocky ride from here to the future but the future we think is extremely promising.