Of Gradients, Conflicts, Electronics, and Access

The following article was originally published in the winter 2017 issue of Interface.

Winter 2017 InterfaceBy: Johna Leddy, ECS President

“It is all about power. If you have power, you have water. If you have water, you have food. If you have food, you can go to school. If you go to school, you have tools to think. If you have access and tools to think, you can learn those next door are not so different. You can work together to mitigate energy disparates and so reduce conflict. It is all about power.”

-ECS satellite OpenCon, October 2017

ECS looks to its future as a forum for research and a conduit for access and communication. Tenets of the scientific method are invariant, but practice of communication and access change. Change is driven by gradients. Without gradients, energy is minimized and the system dies, but if gradients are too steep, the system becomes unstable. History maps conflicts over energy and power. Early wars were over land for food energy. Distribution of natural resources and oil sustain conflicts for thermal energy. Gradients in energy distribution drive change and conflict. Going forward, access to critical materials and information, coupled with the skills and imagination to develop advanced technologies, will mitigate steep gradients in energy distribution.

ECS commits to open communications and access that will animate the vision of a global scientific community with information access, tools, and communications that address critical issues such as energy, and so contribute to greater global stability.

The path forward couples available hardware with newly developing tools. Portable electronics provide means to mitigate the sharp disparities that drive conflict, through communications and access to information. With electronics, the brain is engaged and informed. Calm comes from availability of information and something to engage.

Electronics are the apparatus that enable research through access, measurements, and communications. Once tools of only the few, now ubiquitous electronics allow discovery by thinking researchers worldwide. Add information access and communications, and researchers can work together to find new ideas that mitigate the harsh gradients that drive conflict. Researchers working in concert is the evolving symbiosis of research practice.

ECS is a nexus for researchers. Electrochemical and solid state researchers are an impressively hardworking, collegial, and creative group drawn from across the globe. It is a network that seeks science, puzzles, and questions that transcend geography and historical frictions. By expanding fundamental understanding, technologies advance to improve the lot of humans worldwide. ECS was there at the beginning as a forum for advanced technologies(from batteries to semiconductors) and critical fundamentals (thermodynamics to catalysis).

Going forward, ECS commits to promote access to knowledge and information, to enable communications, and to build a collegial matrix of researchers who address important challenges. ECS’s Free the Science initiative works to morph gradients in scholarly communications to drive openness in research. Information access and communications are the next step to build a global research community, by mitigation of harsh information gradients.

Working toward this future, ECS undertakes experiments at the fringes of what is known about how to advance access. It is clear that the tools are in place to bring change, and the gradients to drive that change are in play. How to harness the gradients to effect worldwide access to information and communications is the question that ECS and like-minded researchers face.

ECS is driving the path forward to a future of open collaboration, communication, and information because the gentle gradients of evolution in science practice depend on openness. Think how the gradients that drive change can be focused to build openness and shape a future with less conflict and better science. Because, it’s all about power … .

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