I don’t know whether it’s me noticing them more, the media picking up on them to a greater extent, or the fact that there are more of them, but I have been captivated by the scientific advances I have read about recently, many on the Business Insider website.
"We just shrug as if it’ s no big deal!"
I have always been intrigued by the stagnation versus growth debate and have tended to side with the latter. My recent reading has reinforced this position.
While our closest relatives would struggle to launch a banana more than 10 feet off the ground, we, the human race, have just done a flyby of the furthest planet from Earth in the solar system, at the same time sending back photos. And we just shrug as if it’ s no big deal! The scientific advances that must have been required to do this must surely somehow be useful in helping make the world a better place.
I forget all of bits and pieces I came across relating to other scientific advances – there were simply too many – but here are two I do remember. The first was Boeing having just had a patent application for a new jet engine design approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The proposed engine uses lasers and nuclear reactions to create vast amounts of energy that is projected out the back of the engine in the form of thrust. Wow! Substituting oil and its derivatives in relation to land transportation and electricity production is already well underway but I’ve often wondered how jet fuel would be replaced. Perhaps this is it.
The second related to biotechnology and what the MIT Technology Review described as “the biggest biotech discovery of the century.” Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier have found a way to use bacteria to cut out particular sections of DNA and replace them with other sections. Double wow! If anyone was wondering how we would likely find cures for cancer and other diseases such as HIV, they need wonder no longer.
I don’t understand Boeing’s jet or the DNA cutting bacteria. I wish I did. But what I’m pretty sure of is that such scientific advances, along with the countless others, are likely to have a huge impact on economic growth and the quality of human life.
Published in Investment Letter, August 2015
The views expressed in this communication are those of Peter Elston at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice. They do not constitute investment advice and whilst all reasonable efforts have been used to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this communication, the reliability, completeness or accuracy of the content cannot be guaranteed. This communication provides information for professional use only and should not be relied upon by retail investors as the sole basis for investment.