• Question: If you had a billion pounds how would you spend it?

    Asked by jessica200500 to Alex, Claire, Kate, Marcus, Neil on 16 Jun 2014.
    • Photo: Claire Brockett

      Claire Brockett answered on 16 Jun 2014:

      Wow jessica200500, tough question!
      I’ve made my work mates smile in the past talking about if I won the lottery, as I usually go into detail about all the research I’d be funding with it at Leeds… rather than running off to somewhere hot!
      I think there are still a lot of problems in the world for engineers to solve, and a billion pounds would go a reasonable way to solving some of those. So I would spend it on more engineering research to tackle healthcare issues – particularly to help bring equality of care around the world.
      What would you spend it on if you could?

    • Photo: Alex Lyness

      Alex Lyness answered on 16 Jun 2014:

      Hey jessica200500,

      That one is easy, if you were to give me £1bn I would dedicate my life to… building an Iron Man suit 😀

      Sounds crazy? But wait there is method in my madness as during all of the high-tech research and development of an Iron Man suit there would be loads of life-saving/altering technology that would filter down into peoples everyday lives.

      That’s why initiatives from companies such as NASA (in the US) and CERN (in Europe) are incredibly important. They work on really complex and seemingly impossible problems (can we go to the moon or Mars? what are atoms made from?). It’s only when so much resource is ploughed into solving these problems do other really useful things get invented too, such as water filters, memory foam, insulin pumps and even the Internet!

      In building an Iron Man suit I think the software and robotics involved would be able to help people who are paralysed to walk again or help firefighters lift really heavy objects in dangerous environments.

      What do you reckon? Are you ready to suit up too?

      Please let me know when you get hold of £1bn and I’ll send you my bank details! 🙂

    • Photo: Kate Niehaus

      Kate Niehaus answered on 16 Jun 2014:

      1. I would buy my parents a beach house – they have done a lot for me!
      2. I would buy myself a beach house 🙂
      3. With the rest, I would set-up an endowment to fund yearly grants for well-researched and sustainable healthcare projects in both the US/UK (where I am from and where I live currently) and around the world.

    • Photo: Marcus Johns

      Marcus Johns answered on 17 Jun 2014:

      Hmmmmmm, lets see:

      1. Pay off student loans, £35,000 down.

      2. Make the Bay of Kyparissia a marine park, set up a fund to ensure it’s protection for the turtles and unique sand dunes, and make a donation to Archelon, £50 million or so?

      3. Still have £950 million… Let’s set aside £10 million for my future – can’t do anything if I’m not around to spend it!

      4. Hang on, is this all tax free? If it’s not, I’m down to about £440 million! I’m not going to evade my taxes. I’ll assume it is tax free for now

      5. I think I would invest in creating a research centre aimed at solving a whole series of problems that face humanity. The focus would be on an interdisciplinary set-up with humanities, sciences and engineering working together rather than following the current fragmented system that universities are based on. A good start would be to come up with solutions to the World Health Development Goals: http://www.who.int/topics/millennium_development_goals/en/
      The other option would be to set up a prize fund, such as the XPRIZE, http://www.xprize.org/ , or the Longitude Prize, http://www.longitudeprize.org/
      This way a huge number of people could benefit from the money, not just the researchers but also the general public that would gain from the technologies developed

    • Photo: Neil Dhir

      Neil Dhir answered on 18 Jun 2014:

      See I think that with £1bn we could make some serious progress done into fusion. As a species we need to figure out how to make energy that is not so dirty as it is now, and which has punch-bowl power such that it can power our spaceships and the like.

      But spaceships aside, there is a lot of money being spent on fusion already, and an experimental facility is currently being built in France (FYI we already have a smaller one outside of Oxford). But it is all taking so much time, and if we could just move it a long a bit faster, we can probably inspire a lot of more people to take up the cause too.

      And of course there is always Iron Man. It is no coincidence that Iron Man uses fusion technology to power his exoskeleton armour. What is completely unrealistic however is that he built it in a cave in Afghanistan. Apart from that, if Iron Man uses fusion technology then that surely must be enough evidence for everyone else, to realise that this is a worthwhile technology to invest in!