Purdue News

September 2, 2004

Nobel laureate Smalley speaks on global and nano energy challenges

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Richard E. Smalley, who won the1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry, will speak at Purdue University on Sept. 15 about what he terms "the single most important problem facing humanity today" – developing new sources of sustainable energy.

Smalley, the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry at Rice University in Houston, will present "Our Energy Challenge" at 7 p.m. in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.

Smalley has stated the energy needs of the world demand a new, sustainable energy source to supplement "clean coal" and nuclear fission technologies as oil and gas reserves decline in coming decades.

Smalley has said "energy is the singe most important problem facing humanity today – not just the U.S., but also worldwide. The magnitude of this problem is incredible."

Energy, Smalley said, is the largest enterprise on Earth – by a large margin. In dollar terms, global energy outlays are $3 trillion annually, compared to $1.3 trillion for agriculture and $700 billion for defense.

Smalley, who is director of Rice University's Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory, said that while conservation efforts will help the worldwide energy situation, the problem by mid-century will be inadequate supply. The solution, in his view, is a combination of solar energy and developing nanotechnology to harness energy from the sun.

Smalley, who has called for a $10 billion program to kick start the science and technology for a long-term energy solution, said solving the global energy supply problem is more than a matter of keeping the world's lights on. Energy also is vital to produce adequate food and water supplies, slow environmental degradation, and reduce poverty and strife worldwide.

Smalley's talk is sponsored by Purdue's Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the physics and chemistry departments, School of Science, School of Nuclear Engineering, College of Engineering, Discovery Park and the Sigma Xi Pioneers in Energy Lecture Series.

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077, mlillich@purdue.edu

Source: Richard Smalley, (713) 348-3250, smalley@rice.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Note to Journalists: A publication-quality photograph of Richard Smalley is available at https://smalley.rice.edu/images/res_afm.jpg.


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