"We are on schedule." "We are on time" is what American glaciologists Ellen Mosley Thompson and Lonnie Thompson did in the Euskalduna palace auditorium, amid a series of depressing messages about climate change. They could have given us the empty bottle but instead chose to give it to us half-full. They acknowledge that it may not be possible to save all mountain glaciers, but they insist that there is still hope. "We still have the time to work together nationally and internationally to slow down, and, ideally eliminate, the threat posed climate and environmental changes and their consequent impact on our societies and economies, livelihoods, and our communities.
The fourteenth edition of BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards was a celebration of hope. But not blindly. It was a time of hope based on knowledge and action. In their speeches, winners and representatives of institutions claimed that knowledge is a compass to help us navigate through a confusing and changing world and as a tool to confront the challenges we face as humans. Rosa Menendez (CSIC President), stated that science is powerful and gives us the chance to create a more supportive and fair future.
A broad range of society attended the event from the stalls. Among them were many scientists and academics. Some had traveled from other parts of the Basque Country to attend the awards ceremony. Twenty winners won the Nobel Prize. Carlos Torres Vila (president of BBVA Foundation, co-president of ceremony with the CSIC head) said that there are a few awards that each year affirm the value science and culture as the most important tools we have for facing the great challenges of our times.
Juan Mari Aburto (the mayor of Bilbao) has called for knowledge to be the key to the future. Juan Mari Aburto, mayor of Bilbao, said knowledge was "our only way out as species and civilization" and that it is "the best antidote for neutralizing extremisms of all types that push us into dark periods that we thought were over". Councilor has highlighted the important role the coronavirus played in research for many citizens. "During the pandemic, we saw the importance of science and knowledge. The technological advances of Katalin Kariko and Robert Langer made it possible to develop vaccines in record time. Aburto stated.
The winners are, according to the Lehendakari "a light that illuminates and points out our destiny." >. Inigo Urkullu pointed out that the world is at the threshold of three great transformations - technologically, energetically and demographically - which are very much present in the investigations by the honorees. He recalled Juan Sebastian Elcano (a universal Basque) as the first person to circumnavigate the globe in the last section of his speech. He said that those who live in the land where the navigator are still alive have not lost the illusion to know, the curiosity to learn, and the ambition to grow.
Drew Weissman, an immunologist, recalled that each flash of something new, no matter if it was unexpected or expected, motivated them to keep going. Drew spoke about 25 years of collaboration with Katalin Kariko, a biochemist, to create the modified messenger RNA (mRNA), which they used as a therapeutic agent. She stressed that although mRNA was first discovered in 1961, it took sixty years for it to be approved as a medical product. The first two vaccines against covid-19 were developed using mRNA. Robert, a chemical engineer, discovered how to insert mRNA into the human body without the organism destroying it. However, he was rejected by the scientific community. My career is a reflection on that of Drs Kariko and Weissman. Although their pioneering work in the early days was often overlooked, they persevered despite all odds.
The Thompsons have also demonstrated the virtue of constancy by climbing to the highest peaks since 1974 to obtain the ice cores that contain the climate history. These cores contain the atmosphere from the past and demonstrate how current climate change is occurring at an unprecedented rate. According to them, it is still possible to "accelerate the transition to a climate-free society." The three Ecology and Conservation Biology winners -Simon Levin and Lenore Fahrig - agreed to a joint intervention.
Matthew Jackson was awarded the award for his research on the role networks play in transactions in economic and social life. He also recalled how humans are "a social species" as well as how economics "has ignored the fact that the majority of economic interactions are embedded within social settings. The economist said that once you begin to study networks, you can see their effect everywhere. Mark Granovetter is a sociologe who discovered the importance of networks of friends, or the "weak ties", when it comes down to finding a job. He said it was a "special joy" to be awarded an award that covers all social sciences.
Jean-Fracois Le Gall was also honored with a Basic Sciences award. This encourages him "continue to advance" in his research on two-dimensional random geometric. Judea Pearl, the philosopher and physicist whose fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence have been recognized, explained that "by asking ourselves "how would a computer do it?" It is possible to imagine how it works, as machines can be used as flexible laboratories to test various theories of human thought. Philip Glass, the musician, stressed the importance to award that recognizes "people who are still alive and work and write about the world in which we live." "The work we do is part of today's culture," stated the Baltimore-based songwriter.