• Question: Why is your research revolutionary?

    Asked by macncheese to Sarah, Nicola, Jessica, James, Ivan on 13 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Sarah Tesh

      Sarah Tesh answered on 13 Nov 2013:

      I’d say my research is revolutionary (that sounds so important though! eek!) because it’s combining ideas and products that have already been tried for cleaning up water but in such a way that avoids their disadvantages. The material I’m making should (by the end of my research) be able to remove so many contaminants from water that it could be used anywhere around the world. There’s also the possibility that it could be used in household taps, at factories to clean their waste products or even as an underground wall. There’s a lot of scope and possibility which makes it very exciting.

    • Photo: Jessica Liley

      Jessica Liley answered on 14 Nov 2013:

      It does make it sound very important doesn’t it!

      I would say my research is revolutionary because it may lead to large international companies changing the products they make and sell, to make them much better for our environment. Did you know that in America, 350 million gallons (just worked out that’s 640 Olympic-sized swimming pools!) of shampoo get washed down the drain every single day?! If we can replace the man-made detergents in shampoo and washing powder with something much “greener” and totally biodegradable, we can work towards making our environment less polluted. My project has been worked on for 8 years now, and there’s still so much more to learn and investigate before we find the right mixture!

    • Photo: James King

      James King answered on 14 Nov 2013:

      This is a question that as a scientist you have to be ready to answer well as we ask organizations for money to fund our research all the time!

      My research has a large impact on climate models that are used in policy, local decision making and weather forecasts. Working with the UK Met Office my work on measuring and modelling dust is improving the accuracy of the current global climate models. Once dust is in the air it can act as seeds for clouds to form, reflect or absorb the sun’s radiation causing the air to cool or warm, and when it falls back down to the surface it can have a large effect on that area’s climate (it is thought that the Amazon rainforest is fed nutrients from the Sahara desert!). As humans use more water from natural reservoirs the soil will become dry and start blowing away leading to desertification. Knowing the limits of this irreversible process before it happens is just one of the ways my research is used. Although this is not happening in the UK/Europe much, it is currently affecting every other continent and their governments spend lots of money trying to correct this problem. One solution that we are testing is to install solar panels (at a very large scale) over these degraded surfaces to block the wind and shelter the soil from being blown away. Although this does not solve the over extraction of water, it will help the soil to recover once things are ‘back to normal’.

    • Photo: Nicola Potts

      Nicola Potts answered on 14 Nov 2013:

      Wow everyone else seems to working on products to help people – I feel a little guilty!

      My research is revolutionary because I’m trying to see what natural resources are available for mining on the Moon. Although that is the very big, marketable, picture of what I do.

      I’m interested in how much water there is on the Moon. We know there aren’t oceans on the surface but like on Earth there is some in the interior. I want to know where this water came from to see how the Earth has so much water compared to any other planetary body.
      Water is believed to be one of the key ingredients to life on Earth and how we came to be!