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IC Colloquium jointly organized with EcoCloud : Sustainable energy - without the hot air


Event details

Date and time 14.09.2012 12:1514:00  
Place and room
Speaker David MacKay, Chief Scientific Advisor, DECC
Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of Cambridge
Category Conferences - Seminars
How easy is it get off our fossil fuel habit? What do the fundamental limits of physics say about sustainable energy? Could a typical "developed" country live on its own renewables? The technical potential of renewables is often said to be "huge" - but we need to know how this "huge" resource compares with another "huge": our
huge power consumption. The public discussion of energy policy needs numbers, not adjectives. In this talk I will express power consumption
and sustainable production in a single set of personal, human-friendly units. Getting off fossil fuels is not going to be easy, but it is possible.

David MacKay was appointed as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on 1st October 2009. The Chief Scientific Advisor’s role is to ensure that the Department’s policies and operations, and its contributions to wider Government issues, are underpinned by the best science and engineering advice available.

David MacKay studied Natural Sciences at Trinity College, then went to Caltech to complete a PhD in Computation and Neural Systems. In 1992 he returned to Cambridge as a Royal Society research fellow at Darwin College. In 1995 he became a university lecturer in the Department of Physics, where he was promoted in 1999 to a Readership and in 2003 to a Professorship in Natural Philosophy. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2009.

David MacKay’s research interests include reliable computation with unreliable hardware, and communication systems for the disabled. He believes that what the climate-change discussion needs is clear, simple numbers, so that we can understand just how big our challenge is, and not be duped by wishful thinking. His book on the subject (Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air: David MacKay, UIT Cambridge, 2009) has received endorsements from all sectors and from all political parties; The Economist called it “a tour de force”, and The Guardian called it “this year's must-read book”.

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Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • Christine Moscioni

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