COMMITMENTS OF THE “PHYSICS FOR DEVELOPMENT” GROUP

It all started in 1981 by a group of European scientists members of the European Physical Society (EPS) in order to bring solidarity to scientist in developing countries. (look at history tag)

CONTEXT:

Physics is ubiquitous in many aspects our life : energy, health, communications, transportation, space exploration, etc.. It is the science which most contributed to the knowledge acquisition and the progress of technology of the developed countries. (insert the link to EPS paper about importance of Physics)

Many people believe that not much happens in physics in developing countries and that research is in the hands of industrialized countries. Yet, the same will agree that physics can address many problems that hinder developing countries. It may provide cheap and effective solutions in various fields: production of solar energy, monitoring of urban and rural pollution, sensors for health monitoring, providing clean water, sensors for agriculture, geophysics for natural resources , etc.

GOALS:

  • Promote basic research and applied research as essential for development.
  • Find and promote alternative solutions for training in experimental research, to improve teaching with university practices and to build laboratory equipment locally leading to local empowerment and independence from developed countries.
  • Impulse creation of networks in order to connect scientists from developing and developed countries and between developing countries.
  • Lobbying developed countries and EC to support research and teaching in developing countries
  • Gather and centralize information in the field of Physics for Development
  • Think about projects with collaboration of local scientists
  • Promote start up creation and scientific entrepreneurship
  • Keeping aware of open source developments

SOLUTIONS AT VIEW:

Since some years new solutions are at view for improving the actual situation based on new methodologies, technological shortcuts, technological platforms, and collaborative ways to work in science, open access and free software, all that being made possible due to internet and also to a boost of creativity impulsed by a “sharing knowledge” philosophy and emergence of Fab Labs and geeks. Recent availability of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) may also improve teaching (if Internet access is good), despite some drawbacks (see dedicated forum on this website).

Among recent advances in technologies which opens to the design of affordable cost instruments, outstanding one’s are; 3D printers, miniaturization of components (such as , LEDs for light source), drones (for airborne remote measurements) , digitalization (numerical world) , laser pointers, paper nanostructures sensors, etc…

We think that one of the biggest challenges is to work on the access to scientific instruments and laboratory equipment since most of developing countries suffer from their absence or their scarcity. This is essential for :

  • Research (basic and applied)
  • Providing equipments for practicals at university level
  • Improve teaching at high school level
  • The measure of important parameters involved in the characterization of society problems such as water and air monitoring.
  • Gaining independence
  • Getting fitted for innovation.

The development of “in silico” or internet experiments - and also of MOOCS - is very important – when communication speed is good – but it can’t substitute the essential act of measuring which supposedly implies to take into account :

  • Difficulties bound to environment,
  • Calibration, reproducibility,
  • Comparison with well defined standards
  • Sensitivity