Budapest hosts second World Science Forum


Science is a bridge between present and future - that's what was decided at the second World Science Forum in Budapest. The Hungarian capital was in fact the capital of the scientific world last week, when business and academia, politics and science, media and people who are usually behind closed laboratory doors had the chance to meet and share ideas. Radio Budapest spoke to the vice president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Norbert Kroo:

"The topics of ethics, responsibility, and knowledge together, not only affect scientists but also society at large - not just in the technological or scientific issues but in any aspects of life. We had about six hundred participants, more than 400 from foreign countries. Many of them were outstanding personalities such as Nobel Prize winners, influential politicians, and great scientists and the exchange of ideas on this really important issue was very positive."

The European Union has to face new challenges from dynamic and growing countries like China, India, South Korea and Brazil. How can we adapt to the changes in this world?

"We have to measure our development ourselves and at the same time try to compete with the others. That's if we are clever enough because Europe is sentenced to success that is simply based on our past. The cradle of the industrial and agricultural revolutions of the nineteenth century and modern science in the twentieth century was in Europe. So, all the traditions are speaking in favour of a bright future. But, at the same time, when looking at it from a financial point of view we have to realise that almost all the countries you mentioned are spending much more on research and development than Europe does. There are nice exceptions like Finland and Sweden, which spend over three percent of their GDP on research and development and you can see the result - they are the frontrunners in the Union.

Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany initiated the setting up of an international scientific institute. Are there any concrete plans for that?

"There are some misconceptions in connection with this institute. The idea of many politicians was that there should be an empty house somewhere, say in Strasbourg, and it would be named the International Institute of technology and it would be given money and that's it. If you look back into history, the American MIT was born in 150 years - spending and working properly. The same applies to outstanding technological institutes in Europe like the ETH in Zurich and EPF in Lausanne, which are outstanding Swiss [federal] engineering schools but the result that they are there is the result of much hard work of the last 150 years.

"So, I myself warn both European and Hungarian politicians to forget about a simple law - heads are more important than buildings, ideas are more important than programmes, and the scientific approach is more important than just a bright idea of someone who otherwise is not at home in the field."

The third such World Science Forum is to be held in Budapest in two years. Are the themes known already?

"Not yet. This was one of our mistakes. I realised it myself the other day. We should have had a brief session discussing the possible topics of the next World Science Forum. We forgot to do that, so we have to do it now simply by correspondence."