Letter: The origins and purposes of National Science Week

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The Independent Online
Sir: Bryan Appleyard fears that National Science Week might be his fault ('Willie and his wicked goblin', 23 March). I can set his mind at rest; it is not. The idea for the week was proposed to the Office of Science and Tecnhology by the British Association last summer. It arose, not from the writings of Mr Appleyard, but from our knowledge that similar weeks had been held successfully in other countries, including Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. To our delight, William Waldegrave and his officials responded positively to our idea and backed their words with financial support.

I agree with Mr Appleyard that science and technology play a dominant role in our culture that is often not recognised or acknowledged. Hence this week, which aims to alert people to this fact. It also enables them to realise what science, engineering and technology can and cannot achieve, to appreciate the nature of the arguments that scientists use to reach their conclusions and the principles that underpin the technologies with which we are surrounded. This is not the stuff of a 'stale, footling public relations gesture'.

Mr Waldegrave has supported our efforts and has helped us to engage considerable media attention. But he has not got in the way of the power of science and technology to inspire and entertain thousands of people who have come to events and activities across the country.

Yours sincerely,

PETER BRIGGS

Executive Secretary

British Association for

the Advancement of Science

London, W1

24 March

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