• Question: have u ever saved someones life from using science

    Asked by 21faraazah to Catriona, Damien, Hannah, James, Jason, Nayeli, Sarah, Sophie, Zaf on 24 Jan 2018.
    • Photo: Catriona Silvey

      Catriona Silvey answered on 24 Jan 2018:

      Short answer would have to be no – researching language is mostly not a life or death situation! Some of the research I do looks at ways parents talk to their children and how this relates to children’s later success in school – while not life-saving, this might one day help us find ways to support parents in improving their children’s lives. There are also many language researchers who do important work on speech and language disorders – this work can absolutely change people’s lives for the better. Personally, though, I’m unlikely to save any lives directly (unless aliens invade and they need linguists to translate their language before they destroy the Earth…)

    • Photo: Jason Nurse

      Jason Nurse answered on 25 Jan 2018:

      Not that I know of! But, I do strongly believe that my research – into online security and privacy risks – helps keeps people safe, both online and offline.

    • Photo: Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez

      Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez answered on 25 Jan 2018:

      No, I echo Catriona’s comment, studying language development is not a matter of life or death. But I’m sure that other kinds of researchers have saved many lives. For example, when World War I broke out in Europe that year, Curie saw a way to apply her expertise to help save the lives of wounded soldiers.

      She realized that the electromagnetic radiation of X-rays could help doctors see the bullets and shrapnel embedded in the soldiers’ bodies and remove them, as well as locate broken bones. Many hospitals in France already had X-ray equipment, but those machines were often far from the battlefield.

      To move the technology closer to the soldiers, Curie and her daughter amassed a fleet of vehicles equipped with X-ray machines and set up 200 radiological units in more permanent posts during the first two years of the war.This is thought to have saved at least a million soldiers during World War I.

    • Photo: Damien Hall

      Damien Hall answered on 25 Jan 2018:

      I’ve never directly saved anyone’s life, either. But, as the others have said, the research that’s done in my area probably can indirectly help to save lives.

      I study sociolinguistics–the way that people use language–and part of that is language rights: who has the right to speak what language, where, and under what conditions. As the language you speak may also indicate the culture you grew up in, when someone hears you speaking a certain language, they may (rightly or wrongly) assume you’re from a certain culture. If they don’t like people from that culture, they may want to hurt you because of the conclusions they’ve drawn about you, based on the language you speak. Sociolinguistics research can help to stop that situation by giving us more information about who speaks what, and where. In that way, governments and the UN and other organisations like that can be alerted to a danger to some people, that they might not have known about, and the governments or the UN can hopefully take action to stop that happening.

    • Photo: Sophie Scott

      Sophie Scott answered on 25 Jan 2018:

      Only indirectly – someone had a heart attack in the cafe I was in and my friend said “sophie is a doctor she can help” and there wasn’t really time to explain that I am a PhD not a clinician, and I had done first aid so I stepped in. And he did survive, but I think that’s more down to the ambulance I called!