About the Special Event
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting is the world's largest general science gathering and attracts upwards of 6,000 people from over 60 countries each year – including leading researchers, educators, policy makers and science communicators. The AAAS Annual Meeting provides hundreds of opportunities to attend seminars, workshops and networking activities across a wide range of scientific topics. Only a few plenary sessions and special lectures are held each year, which are reserved for major figures such as Al Gore, Stephen Chu, Larry Page, Mamphela Aletta Ramphele, John Holdren and now, Mike Lazaridis. As Founder and Board Chair of Perimeter Institute, Mike helps lead efforts to create the world's foremost centre for foundational theoretical physics, uniting public and private partners, and the world's best scientific minds, in a shared enterprise to achieve breakthroughs that will transform the future. "It is my great pleasure to introduce an inspiring visionary," said William Press, AAAS President-Elect. "With his history of innovation and building an ecosystem for the technologies of tomorrow, it is no wonder that among Mike’s many awards, he was named Canada’s Nation Builder of the Year in 2002 by readers of the Globe and Mail newspaper, and honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada and Member of the Order of Ontario."
Key Remarks by Mike Lazaridis
On Friday, February 17, 2012, at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Mike Lazaridis shared insights on the power of ideas through a series of personal recollections from his boyhood and university years on the value of science and education. He also offered important lessons from history on the high impact of breakthroughs through theoretical physics. The online AAAS video recording is available here. Highlights from the forty minute presentation include:
"We need to commit not only to good science, but great science. Breakthrough science. Ultimately, that means supporting the best, from all over the planet, to go in the directions that their curiosity leads them, and to pursue their most ambitious ideas.
It’s inspiring to go to the Perimeter Institute cafeteria and simply sit and listen – not to the science, which I only begin to understand – but simply to the languages. You're standing in line for coffee and you’re likely to hear one language behind you and another in front of you. It's amazing and inspiring to me that science can join all these people together in pursuit of these really big ideas.
Science, I believe, is the first successful global democracy. Scientists govern themselves through a (mostly) peaceful system of peer-review and ultimately through scientific experimental verification. They are bound by their allegiance to reason and curiosity, committed to looking honestly at evidence. They share a common language – mathematics. They unite across differences of age and gender and race, across all the cultures and geographies of the world, to solve problems – some of the most difficult problems."
"Education is a form of time travel. We are sending our kids forward in time, to a future that doesn't exist yet. They'll hold jobs we’ve never heard of, in industries yet to be invented. What can they take with them?
I think it must be the very biggest of ideas, the very broadest of skills. A hard-won physical intuition for the way the world works. A handful of really big ideas, and the space to tinker with them. Great problem-solving skills. A willingness to take risks, to fail, over and over again until they succeed. A great education."
"Ladies and Gentlemen: if I could say just one thing to you today, it would be this: Times are hard, and in such times it’s tempting to cut back. But we can’t afford to cutback. We have to have courage and think big and be bold.
We cannot be so blinded by the urgency of our problems that we take for granted how important, how powerful, the combination of curiosity and reason really is. That is the tradition of science.
And don't ever forget what history has proven time and time again. Although history tells us that the impact of scientific breakthroughs can't be predicted, it also says that impact will come. We can be quite sure of that. Make a breakthrough, and impact will come. And the impact will improve everything."
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.