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Address to graduate students, young PG, Indian visitors and Fermilab Scientists
FERMILAB, Batavia, IL, Apr 25 2011
Updated on Apr 25 2011
Published bywww.abdulkalam.com
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World Knowledge Platform: Synergizing Core Competencies of Multiple Nations

"A few months after a devastating defeat at Fredericksburg,
before Gettysburg would be won,
before Richmond would fall,
before the fate of the Union would be at all certain,
President Abraham Lincoln signed into law
an act creating the National Academy of Sciences
-- in the midst of civil war"

I am delighted to be in this beautiful environment of Fermilab, interacting with you. My greetings to all of you. Dear Friends, FermiLab carries with its name the legacy of the great scientist, Enrico Fermi, who has been and will continue to be an inspiration for many young scientists throughout the world. I admire one of his statements to the scientists on discovery, quote "There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery." I am very happy that I am in the midst of great scientists of Fermilab who have done pioneering work in particle physics and also many diversified areas of science. The added pleasure is that being a student of Physics in my under-graduate course it is a dream comes true for me to visit this premier lab. I am planning to disseminate this visit with my teacher Prof Chinnadurai in India, who taught me nuclear Physics. I am sure he would be thrilled.

Just before this visit, I discussed with the Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. Srikumar Banerjee, who said that the cooperation between FermiLab and India is very vital and this needs to be intensified further. Friends, India has decided to invest in its research for building thorium based nuclear reactor for the reasons, apart from technical advantages, of abundant thorium availability in India. I am aware of FermiLab project called Project X, involving high intensity proton acceleration, with SCRF (Self-Consistent Reaction Field) technology playing a pivotal role. I am glad that our atomic energy establishments in India and FermiLab have envisioned now to produce CWB (Continuous Wave Beam) which is vital for ADS (Accelerator Driver Sub critical System) applications. ADS will alone allow large scale injection of Thorium in our nuclear energy programme. I am sure this collaborative program is very important from India?s angle and Of course, India is planning in a big way, India based neutrino observatory and work has commenced on this and I am sure that FermiLab and neutrino program of India will have close cooperation.

Communication interface among scientists and citizens

Friends, I would like to share one thought with you on the interface between scientists, technologists and administrators. With the world having technology enabled, the communication among the various segments of society becomes very vital. For energy independence nuclear energy is a crucial element. The long lead time and investments needed need to be communicated. To reduce the lead times partnerships have to be encouraged. The citizens have to be explained about the safety aspects and the fool proof measures the scientists are contemplating. In democracies, there will be different view points and that is all the more reason that facts have to be communicated among citizens, environmentalists and administrators, along with checks and balances of the approved and implementable safety standards. Hence while you carry your cutting edge science and technology work, you may also keep this communication aspect very well in mind. Another factor is that the entire world, a transition is taking place from veteran scientists to new generations. Transfer of technology and knowledge become crucial so that mistakes of the past during experimentation do not repeat in new research and operational phases.

As I see, the scientists assembled here, my mind traverses to my assignment as a Professor of Societal Transformation in the reputed Anna University in Chennai, Southern part of India in 2001-02. The Academic environment and the energy of the youth inspired me to consolidate my experiences from my professional career. That enabled me to evolve specific societal missions with application of science and technology.
With this dynamic environment of Fermi Laboratory, I was thinking what thoughts I can share with you. The topic I have selected is "World Knowledge Platform : Synergizing Core Competencies of Multiple Nations".

At this stage I would like to recall a poem composed by me and read in our Parliament (India) in 2005 to inspire our lawmakers:

The Vision
I climbed and climbed
Where is the peak, my Lord?
I ploughed and ploughed,
Where is the knowledge treasure, my Lord?

I sailed and sailed,
Where is the island of peace, my Lord?

Almighty, bless my nation
With vision and sweat resulting into happiness.

This poem reflects the importance of the vision in thinking and action for every member of the society particularly to the leaders in politics, academy and industry, youth and the people.

Ignited minds of the youth

Friends, I attended two international conferences of youth represented by 100 to 150 nations, one at Liverpool, UK and another at Abu Dhabi, UAE. While preparing for your address, I was asking myself what messages I got from the global youth. The youth, of course have a fervent hope to live in a peaceful, happy, prosperous and safe world with full of opportunities. But I can see the anxiety among the youth how to handle a world devastated by wars between people to people and between nation to nation due to ideological and personal interest. Peace is essential for sustainable development of the globe. Every responsible global citizen should stand by the three billion youth of the world who are restless with the hope "that youth can do it, nations can do it and the world can do it", for making prosperity and peace of the world a reality. As you all friends you know, "Ignited minds of the youth are the most powerful resources on the earth, above the earth and under the earth".

Research for Human progress

In 1931, the year I was born in a small Island in India, Einstein was addressing a group of students in CalTech, an institute I later visited a number of times. The great scientist said "?Concern for man himself must always constitute the chief objective of all technological effort, concern for the big, unsolved problems of how to organize human work and the distribution of commodities in such a manner as to assure that the results of our scientific [work] may be blessing to mankind and not a curse"

Science, technology and humanities bring diverse groups across the world and challenge them to take up new avenues of research for finding suitable solutions for peace and prosperity in the evolving times of the world. The technology has expanded physical travel and connectivity to a large extent, beyond any realm of imagination in the past centuries. This kind of non linear growth of technology and its improvement of quality of human life across the world is in the best interest of the entire humanity. Take any issue, be it energy and environment, understanding the atmosphere, exploration of outer space, increasing outreach of science, equitable distribution of prosperity and wealth, dealing with deadly diseases, weaning people away from drugs, or the family ties. In every one of them, I feel research has to the thrust area; they all require the best of minds from many parts of the world, working together. Here I am very happy that FermiLab, apart from innovative researches like particle physics has also entered into societal missions.

Technology without Borders

In the 20th century, most nations understood that science and technology was the best vehicle for economic upliftment. However, the problems that S&T was used to solve have been primarily local and customized to their needs. Today, the problems faced by nations are no longer, a concern of them alone. Humanity is devoting more and more attention to climate change, energy, water, disease, economic turbulence and terrorism, which are all of concern to the entire world and the solutions for which are beyond any individual nations or group of nations.

If S&T has to provide upliftment of our humanity, if the research and development are in areas with porous borders between them and if the problems of the world know not of geographical borders, the education that becomes the foundation of all our science and technology, research and development also must of necessity become borderless.

When I was traveling in an Aircraft in the United States, I was told that much of its controls were software driven and most probably developed in India. When I presented my credit card, I was told that it was being processed in the backend server located in Mauritius. When I walked into a software development centre, Bangalore, I was fascinated to find that it truly presented a multicultural environment. A software developer from China working under a project leader from Korea working with a software engineer from India and a hardware architect from the US and the communication expert from Germany were all working together to solve the banking problem in Australia. When I see, all of them working together like one family forgetting about the culture from which they came or the language that they speak, I feel that the only hope for such borderless interaction to continue is to inculcate the spirit of borderlessness in our education also.

In this borderless environment, let me present convergence of technologies.

Convergence of Technologies

The information technology and communication technology have already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information Technology combined with bio-technology has led to bio-informatics. Similarly, Photonics is grown out from the labs to converge with classical Electronics and Microelectronics to bring in new high speed options in consumer products. Flexible and unbreakable displays using thin layer of film on transparent polymers have emerged as new symbols of entertainment and media tools. Now, Nano-technology has come in. It is the field of the future that will replace microelectronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the areas of medicine, electronics and material science. I am sure about the use of nano-robot for drug delivery.

When Nano technology and ICT meet, integrated silicon electronics, photonics are born and it can be said that material convergence will happen. With material convergence and biotechnology linked, a new science called Intelligent Bioscience will be born which would lead to a disease free, happy and more intelligent human habitat with longevity and high human capabilities. Convergence of bio-nano-info technologies can lead to the development of nano robots. Nano robots when they are injected into a patient, my expert friends say, it will diagnose and deliver the treatment exclusively in the affected area and then the nano-robot gets digested as it is a DNA based product. I saw the product sample in one of the labs in South Korea where best of minds with multiple technology work with a target of finding out of the box solution.

Now, a new trend is emerging. The aspect being introduced is that of Ecology. Globally, the demand is shifting towards development of sustainable systems which are technologically superior. This is the new dimension of the 21st century knowledge society, where science and environment will go together. Thus the new age model would be a four dimensional bio-nano-info-eco based.

Think globally and act locally

So friends, in all areas of technology development, which will bring benefit to the society at large, we need to think globally and act locally. It could mean packaging technology to different specification and requirements of customers in different parts of the world to quality and affordable cost. It could mean the effective use of core competence wherever it exists. It could mean the nations have to see differently technology possession from a currency of power to a tool of development of all nations. It could mean legal and political processes have while giving the needed protection for Intellectual property rights, should not interfere with the process of cooperation and healthy competition. The leaders have to think globally and act locally. There has to be a global vision of human progress and the leaders have to work towards that.

1. A world, where all citizens will have equitable distribution of clean and affordable energy.
2. A world where all citizens even in the remotest parts will have electronic connectivity and knowledge connectivity
3. A world where all citizens will have safe drinking water.
4. Planet earth will be transformed to prosperity without poverty, peaceful without fear of war and a happy place to live for the whole humanity using space technologies as one of the prime movers.

In order to promote synergy between nations and organizations, we need a mechanism. Hence, during my visits to various countries, I had proposed establishment of "World Knowledge Platform", which will integrate the core competencies of the partnering countries and institutions like Fermilab to develop processes, products and systems for resolving the challenges faced by the world.

World Knowledge Platform

This World Knowledge platform will enable joint design, development, cost effective production and marketing of the knowledge products in various domains based on the core competence of partner nations to international market. Initially, the mission of World Knowledge Platform is to connect and network the R&D Institutions, Universities and Industries using fiber broadband from the partner nations on selected R&D Missions.

Missions of World Knowledge Platform: The convergence of Bio, Nano, IT and Ecology is expected to touch every area of concern to the humanity. The "World Knowledge Platform" will take up the missions, in some of the areas discussed further, which are of utmost urgency to all of us to make our world a safe, sustainable, peaceful and prosperous place to live:

1. Energy Independence : the transformation of global energy dependence on fossil fuel like oil, gas, coal has to shift towards renewable energy sources like hydro-power, solar power, wind power and nuclear power. This has to happen to protect the planet earth from environmental pollution and to meet the situation of non availability of fossil fuel in few decades and above all to realize economic freedom from high and fluctuating cost of crude per barrel.
One of the futuristic missions in this area would be that of space based solar power harnessing which would be at least thrice as effective as terrestrial solar power systems. The challenge would be of transporting energy back from space to ground, which can be overcome by nano packets which can move to and fro from the space station to the ground. Fermi Lab can be a significant contributor in this mission.

2. Water: Desalination of sea water using solar energy, channelization, networking of rivers, cost effective safe drinking water.

3. Healthcare: Diagnosis, drug delivery system, development and production of vaccines for HIV/TB, malaria and cardiac diseases. The permanent solution has to be found by worldwide research through life style change for preventing occurrence and curing diabetic diseases.
Research has a prominent role to play in this sector. Biomedical scientists use particle physics technologies to decipher the structure of proteins, information that is key to understanding biological processes and healing disease. A clearer understanding of protein structure allows for the development of more effective drugs

4. Knowledge products: Hardware, Software and Networking and Storage Products including handheld micro and nano electronic devices. Knowledge injection in traditional products can usher in a new era of superior products. For instance, it was the construction of Fermilab?s Tevatron accelerator started the superconducting wire industry.
5. Transportation systems: Fossil fuel free biofuel based transportation systems using biofuel like ethanol and bio-diesel. Also it is essential to develop transportation system to suit 100% biofuel.

6. Disaster Prediction and Management: Earthquake forecasting, assessing in advance the quantum of rain for particular cloud condition.

7. Capacity Building: Quality human resource development for all the above areas including the development of personnel with world class skills.

8. Sustainable development: Strategies, policies, education system and modeling.

9. Climate Change: the aim will be to reduce the carbon footprint of every organization and also create carbon neutral cities, states and countries.

10. Thorium Fuelled Reactors for the World: Both India and US can work together thorium based power plants to the world.

A number of academic, research and production institutions like Fermilab, IISc Bangalore, IITs, Chicago University, Oakland University, Department of Atomic Energy in India and from many other countries can join in the World Knowledge Platform as partners in any one or more of the above-mentioned areas.


Friends, in conclusion let me share with you a beautiful experience when I visited Greece in April 2007. I was negotiating and climbing towards Acropolis mountain top in Athens and came across a group of 150 Greek students. They threw a spontaneous smile on me, the teachers came forward and introduced the students. They said, they were very happy to see the Indian president and that the children would like to hear from him few words. My mind at that time was thinking about the great personalities, the land of Greece had given to the world: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The words of Plato were ringing in my mind when I saw the young students. Plato brings out that "Our aim in founding the State was not the disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness of the whole", 2400 years ago.

Similarly, around the same period Tamil Saint poet Thiruvalluvar said,

That is, "the important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free; high earning capacity; high productivity; harmonious living and strong defence". We have to find how we can provide all these elements to the citizens of every nation on an equitable basis for happiness for all.

With these thoughts, I made up my mind, of what to say to the students and the youth of Greece. I slowly repeated line by line, a hymn which I normally hear in Indian spiritual centers.

Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
there is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home.
There is an order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.

When the students and the youth repeated with me, the tourists around at the Acropolis also repeated and there was all round ovations. Then I realized how people from multiple nations, young and experienced were influenced by the thought of righteousness in the heart irrespective of their nationality. You can see how the righteousness in the heart generates beauty in the character in the human beings and beauty in the character leads to harmony in the home. Harmony in the home in an integrated way generates order in the nation. Of course the order in the nation finally blossoms peace in the world. The righteousness in the heart is the starting point for great individual, great family and great nation and ultimately great planet earth.

My best wishes to all the members of Fermi Laboratory success in the mission of providing leading edge science and technological contribution to the world community.

May God Bless you.

By, Dr. APJ Abdulkalam

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User Comments :
4   ciaranPosted OnJun 05 2013 12:34:14
My idea for starting the space energy business is to use reflected sunlight to replace streetlights. Big cities spend lots of money on street lighting. Even replacing a few hours of street lighting with reflected sunlight from space might be enough to build a business case to start the adventure. It would also raise awareness and acceptance of Space Solar Power.

3   Enric G. TorrentsPosted OnMay 12 2013 10:49:55
The best of luck creating such World Knowledge Platform. It is indeed a most needed project, probably the only hope for humanity to move forward and solve its problems, instead of engaging in war and endless, pointless conflicts. We are working on an Open Linked Data platform on international law and justice, please feel free to contact us for further information on the project.

2   ayyakannuganeshPosted OnOct 17 2011 16:46:06
Dearest Sir, Wish you a very happy birthday, yours affectionately, ayyakannuganesh

1   sumitPosted OnApr 26 2011 11:40:48
so inspire.

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