Scientists Peter Higgs and François Englert, (Higgs Boson) fired the first shots, pointing out that if the Government maintains its cuts policy Spain will be left behind by the vanguard of scientific development. Professor Englert underlined the importance of basic investigation and education as the way out of the crisis.
“Education is the basis of social well being for the future. It is tremendously important that research is not cut back because it is the only way to recover from this crisis,” he explained.
Peter Gruss, who is the Chairman of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science and who was awarded the Prize for International Cooperation, donated his 50,000-euros prize money and a further 50,000 of his own to grants for Spanish researchers. He frankly admitted that he had received many letters from Spanish colleagues expressing their concern over the cuts and the exodus of young research scientists from the country.
“There are hundreds of studies that demonstrate that scientists improve society. There is a direct correlation between investment in research & development and growth in the economy,” he stated.
He finished by calling on Prime Minister Rajoy to make an effort to prevent the ‘brain drain’ amongst the young members of the Spanish scientific community, as the are the “seed of the future,” adding that Europe can never compete in the cheap manufacturing industry but it could within technological development products – “but if investment is not made in research, it will be very difficult, even for Germany.”
Another prize winner that opted to donate her 50,000-euro prize money was sociologist, Saskia Sassen, calling for deep changes to the markets. She supports a popular movement to force through political changes, giving more emphasis to neighbourhood and city-size, social collectives.
She finished by heavily criticising the fact that the brunt of the cost of fighting against the crisis in Spain has fallen upon the weakest members of society – too many families and workers have been forced out of the system into poverty.
“The question that we have to ask ourselves is what is happening amongst those that have been forced out of society [evicted and homeless surviving on handouts].” she suggested.