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24 September 2014
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Distinguished engineer to give Reith Lectures 2005 on Radio 4

Category: Radio 4

Date: 10.02.2005
Printable version

This year's Reith Lecturer is the distinguished engineer, Lord Broers.


Alec Broers is President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.  He was also Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University.

He was a pioneer of nanotechnology and the first person to use the scanning electron microscope for the fabrication of micro-miniature structures.

In the five lectures, entitled The Triumph Of Technology, he sets out his belief that technology can and should hold the key to the future.

He says: "It is time to wake up to this fact. Applied science is rivalling pure science both in importance and in intellectual interest. We cannot leave technology to the technologists; we must all embrace it.

"We have lived through a revolution in which technology has affected all our lives and altered our societies for ever."

The lectures are broadcast from 6 April to 4 May at 8.00pm on Radio 4 and chaired by Sue Lawley.

In the first lecture he says that technology is determining the future of the human race.

He goes on to maintain that the alleviation of poverty and disease can only happen if technology is harnessed on a vast and all-inclusive scale - thus helping to bridge the divide between the first world and the third.

In his next lecture, Alec Broers discusses leadership and stresses the need for collaboration on an international scale.

Most technological innovations require the full spectrum of technical subjects and expertise and they take into account the social, environmental, economic and social factors.

For his third lecture he develops ideas of how technology should be managed and marketed.

He believes that the market is the best regulator and those who develop technologies without taking the customer into account are asking for trouble.

Alec Broers focuses on nanotechnology (which encompasses his own specialism) for the fourth lecture.

He tackles the fears of 'grey goo' and explains what nanotechnology really is and looks forward to the advances it may bring.

In the final lecture he considers ethics, risks and the way forward with particular reference to the UK's place in the technological race.

Lord Broers says: "I have chosen technology as the subject of my Reith Lectures because it is exciting and fast moving and because it shapes our lives.

"Technology provides the means for the third world to join the first world and, besides, if we do not understand it better we will fall behind in our own intellectual, social and material development.

"I have spent my life creating technology and it is a huge privilege to be given this chance to explain its importance."

Two of the five lectures will be recorded in London, the others in Cambridge, Manchester and Glasgow.


They will be broadcast every Wednesday from 6 April to 4 May at 8.00pm on BBC Radio 4.


Alec Broers FREng FRS is President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He is Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1996 until 2003.

He was educated at Melbourne University and the University of Cambridge (Gonville and Caius College), and then worked in the research and development laboratories of IBM in the USA for 19 years before returning to Cambridge in 1984 to become Professor of Electrical Engineering (1984-96) and Fellow of Trinity College (1985-90).

He subsequently became Master of Churchill College (1990-96) and Head of the University Engineering Department (1993-96).


He was knighted in 1998 and created a life peer in 2004.


He is married with two children.



The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Category: Radio 4

Date: 10.02.2005
Printable version


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

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