• Question: Do you personally think your work has helped the public's lives?

    Asked by Minor to Thomas Telford, Stephen Hawking, Rosalind Franklin, Peter Medawar, Nicholas Shackleton, Mary Somerville, Mary Anning, John Snow, G. H. Hardy, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, Frederick Sanger, Francis Crick, Elizabeth GarrettAnderson, Edwards and Steptoe, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Beatrice Shilling, Aneurin Bevan, Alan Turing, Ada Lovelace on 14 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Dorothy Hodgkin

      Dorothy Hodgkin answered on 14 Nov 2018:


      Absolutely! My work on the structure of insulin has been very useful for the treatment of diabetes which is a disease that affects a lot of people!

    • Photo: Mary Somerville

      Mary Somerville answered on 14 Nov 2018:


      Yes!
      Without my work, the maths that makes our understanding of electricity possible may not have happened for years, similar for computers.
      Plus, I made a lot of the big ideas accessible to lots more people, I opened the doors for science to not just be for those that spoke and wrote in Latin, as well as showing that all of science is connected.

    • Photo: John Snow

      John Snow answered on 14 Nov 2018:


      Yes, my biggest achievement was founding the study of epidemiology – finding associations between diseases and their causes. I started by looking into the relationship between cholera and water-borne bacteria but today it is used for all sorts of things. A huge example of it helping the public at the moment is in reducing air pollution exposure. Epidemiologists compare measurements of air pollutants with markers of lung and heart disease to see which air pollutants we need to limit exposure to. Another famous example is the discovery that thalidomide (previously taken to treat morning sickness) was responsible for the rise in babies born with disabilities in the 60s. Without epidemiology, far more pregnancies would have been affected.

    • Photo: Ada Lovelace

      Ada Lovelace answered on 14 Nov 2018:


      Yes. As answer to another question
      My contribution is indirect because modern computing needed advance in electronics to b workable. Its my ideas that are pioneering

    • Photo: Rosalind Franklin

      Rosalind Franklin answered on 14 Nov 2018:


      Yes, my work has helped the public. By understanding the structure of DNA, new methods could be developed that allowed for its isolation, study and editing.
      By understanding DNA, the building block of life, we now know what causes different diseases like cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease or sickle-cell anemia; this brings us closer to curing these diseases.

    • Photo: Thomas Telford

      Thomas Telford answered on 15 Nov 2018:


      Of course, the roads and bridges I have designed connect communities. The techniques I developed in road construction are still used by civil engineers today!

    • Photo: Mary Anning

      Mary Anning answered on 15 Nov 2018:


      The stories of me, and of my discoveries (ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterosaurs), have inspired generations of children. My most spectacular fossils are still on public display – nearly 200 years after I found them. So yes, my life and work has and continues to inspire and excite imaginations!

    • Photo: Aneurin Bevan

      Aneurin Bevan answered on 15 Nov 2018:


      Without doubt my work has helped! Without the NHS many people simply couldn’t afford healthcare, this is why I set it up. I truely believe that every single person should have access to healthcare free at the point of delivery. Setting up the welfare state has made this possible, granted I know my proposal of free health care wasn’t popular because I wanted to raised taxes for the wealthy but I feel the NHS has been a great achievement as it serves us all.

      I mean just look at the figures, currently 1 million patients are seen by the NHS every 36hrs, I think that is evidence enough of how my work has and is still currently helping everybody.

    • Photo: Stephen Hawking

      Stephen Hawking answered on 15 Nov 2018:


      I can’t speak on behalf of Stephen Hawking in this, but I believe he would have thought his work was important. The direct impact of his work has little benefit to the daily lives of people. However, his work has expanded our understanding of fundamental physics and of our Universe.

      It might be too early to see the impact of his scientific work, as unlike many of the other scientists, his work is very recent.

      However, there is also the impact he had by telling people about science. So many people know about black holes, space time, and care about physics because of his books. A whole generation of scientists were created because of him. What’s more, Stephen is one of the few candidates who was alive to see the impact he had on the world!

    • Photo: Peter Medawar

      Peter Medawar answered on 15 Nov 2018:


      Hello Minor, thank you for asking a great question. I only played a small part in the revolution in transplants that has taken place since my work many decades ago, but the work I did was critical in making it all possible, so I do feel that I played an important part in helping the tens of thousands of people and their families that benefit from successful transplants every year.

    • Photo: Nicholas Shackleton

      Nicholas Shackleton answered on 17 Nov 2018:


      Yep! Without my work we wouldn’t understand some of the reasons behind past climate change. We can use past climate change to understand future climate change. Understanding what might happen as a result of rising global temperatures is important for both humans and animals.

    • Photo: Godfrey Harold Hardy

      Godfrey Harold Hardy answered on 18 Nov 2018:


      It helped a lot of mathematicians! And some biologists and physicists (like Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr). To be honest, I never studied mathematics to make lives better; in fact, I was very annoyed with how “applicable” maths was in my day, because too many people used it in developing sophisticated weapons, and I was a pacifist. I studied maths because it is beautiful.

    • Photo: Francis Crick

      Francis Crick answered on 19 Nov 2018:


      My discovery of what the structure of DNA is allowed for further research to take place into how DNA works etc. This in turn has allowed us to use DNA to diagnose and also treat and potentially cure illnesses as we know have a full understanding of how a disease works. Also if a disease alters the DNA we are working to find ways of changing or editing this in humans to prevent disease as it has been shown to be successful in research studies. DNA can also be used in the testing of diagnosis technology to help ensure patients get the correct treatment for their disease.

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