Excellence in Science and Exploration

Partner Event hosted by Rolex SA; Brian P. Schmidt, Gina Moseley; Moderator: Faith McLellan


Abstract

Participants:

  • Astrophysicist Brian Schmidt jointly won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics after presenting the first evidence that the universe’s expansion is accelerating not slowing down, as was thought. Currently Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, he is a leading proponent of the Mainau Declaration on Climate Change (2015). The declaration, signed by 72 Nobel Laureates, appealed to the world to take decisive action to limit future global emissions and was presented during COP21 in Paris.

  • Gina Moseley, who won a Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2021, is a British climate researcher, polar explorer and caver. She is currently Professor and Research Group Leader at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, specializing in caves as time-capsules for past climates. She has led three expeditions to Greenland and is planning another in 2023, supported by Rolex, to explore the planet’s northern-most caves. Her world-first expedition seeks to expose the risk to humanity from polar regions now heating twice as fast as elsewhere.

  • Moderator: Faith McLellan, scientific writer and editor, World Health Organization


Summary


Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein once famously said: “the greatest scientists are artists as well”, reigniting a debate that has raged across the centuries. An exploration of the importance of creative thinking alongside excellence in scientific practice to solve problems or expand knowledge of the world goes to the heart of the annual Rolex Partner breakfast.

This year, our panellists Gina Moseley and Brian Schmidt will discuss how science and exploration are contributing to knowledge about climate change, and how to present evidence that informs the world about this crucial line of research. They will also describe how important creativity and detective work are to their findings.

Moseley says that one of the best ways to understand climate change is to be found in studying the chemical history of caves, to look for the presence of calcite mineral deposits, which are also known as speleothems and are formed from dripping water. For water to enter the caves in northern Greenland, the climate would have to have been warmer and wetter than it is today. If calcite is found on her expedition to north-eastern Greenland in 2023, Moseley’s research could potentially extend the existing climate record for the far north fourfold – taking it up to half a million years ago. By comparing Greenland’s cave records with other climate records and with sea levels, it is possible to build a more global picture of the planet in a warmer period.

Greenland is a region vital to the planet’s future. Its ice sheet is melting at record rates. On a single day in 2019, it added up to 12 billion tonnes of water to the oceans. World sea levels are rising by more than a millimetre a month, which scientists did not expect to see for another 50 years. When the Greenland ice cap is gone, sea levels will be lifted by six to seven metres.


Rolex and science


From its earliest days, Rolex has been at the forefront of science and innovation. The company pioneered the development of the wristwatch, including landmark innovations such as the first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism.

Its watches have accompanied explorers and achievers around the world, from the top of the highest mountains to the deepest reaches of the ocean. Alongside watchmaking, Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.

Historically, Rolex has been linked to cutting-edge scientific institutions such as CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, one of the world’s top research institutes. Since the mid-1970s, Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise have helped advance our knowledge of the world, often in the realm of science.
Rolex’s support of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings since 2015 is part of this legacy, as the exchange between Nobel Laureates and young scientists inspires new advances that will benefit all mankind.

Rolex is proud to host this Partner Breakfast to further the mission of the Lindau Meetings: demonstrate the sharing of knowledge between scientists of different generations, cultures and disciplines.


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