2003 : WHAT ARE THE PRESSING SCIENTIFIC ISSUES FOR THE NATION AND THE WORLD, AND WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE ON HOW I CAN BEGIN TO DEAL WITH THEM? - GWB

[ print ]

Neuroscientist; Chairman, Board of Directors Human Science Center; Department of Medical Psychology, Munich University; Author, Mindworks
Neuroscientist

Dear Mr. President,

Scientists are natural ambassadors.

I consider it a great opportunity to get your attention for what I believe is an important scientific and societal issue.

Who am I? A neuroscientist born in 1940 in an area of Germany which is now Poland. I belong to the group of people who lost everything after expatriation, and who had to start again at a new place owning only what they had and have in their head, i.e. their brain.

With my experiences I have come to the conclusion stated in the beginning: Scientists are natural ambassadors.

It is only scientists who bring people and nations together. Independent of history, religious faith, economic status, gender or color of skin, scientists work together and have worked together to pursue a common goal, i.e. a deeper understanding of nature and culture. As this is the case, I believe it is necessary to use the sciences building bridges between cultures.

Although your administration is presently deeply involved, and necessarily so, in fighting terrorism, I believe, Mr. President, that a long-term issue should also be tackled by your administration.

Let me use a picture from physics. Stability is only given if an object rests on three legs. This is also true in global politics. A longterm balance is given if three large blocks develop and maintain their identity. This is of course the US, but which is also East Asia (in particular China), and Europe (in spite of some present hesitations to see its identity and its global mission). In a world of three large areas of cultural identity, i.e. US, East Asia and Europe, each one of equal importance and expressing respect to the others, we can hope for longterm stability.

It is the scientists in all these countries to create the necessary atmosphere and provide the societal glue to reach that goal.

With all respect

Ernst Pöppel
Neuroscientist
Chair of the Board of Directors at the Center for Human Sciences
Director of the Institute for Medical Psychology, University of Munich.