Lord Broers FREng FRS, President of The Royal Academy of Engineering, is to give the 2005 Reith Lectures, to be broadcast every Wednesday on BBC Radio 4 from 6 April to 4 May.

Alec Broers, who is also Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, pioneered the use of electron beams in the 1960s to construct patterns on silicon chips – the essential technology for creating miniature electronic circuits. He spent the early part of his career in research with IBM in the United States, one of the best ‘playhouses for electronics’ in the world. He returned to the University of Cambridge 16 years later and went on to become Vice Chancellor of the University.

Lord Broers says: "I have chosen technology as the subject of my Reith Lectures because it is exciting and fast moving and because it shapes our lives”. In the five lectures, entitled The Triumph of Technology, he sets out his belief that technology can and should hold the key to the future.

"It is time to wake up to this fact” he says. “Applied science is rivalling pure science both in importance and in intellectual interest. We cannot leave technology to the technologists; we must all embrace it. We have lived through a revolution in which technology has affected all our lives and altered our societies for ever."

"Technology provides the means for the third world to join the first world and, besides, if we do not understand it better we will fall behind in our own intellectual, social and material development. I have spent my life creating and developing technology and it is a huge privilege to be given this chance to explain its importance."

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The Reith Lectures were inaugurated in 1948 by the BBC to mark the historic contribution made to public service broadcasting by Sir John (later Lord) Reith, the corporation’s first director-general.
    Reith Lectures on BBC website

    John Reith maintained that broadcasting should be a public service which enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. It is in this spirit that the BBC each year invites a leading figure to deliver a series of lectures on radio. The aim is to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.
    The very first Reith lecturer was the philosopher, Bertrand Russell who spoke on "Authority and the Individual". Among his successors were Arnold Toynbee (The World and the West, 1952), Robert Oppenheimer (Science and the Common Understanding, 1953) and J.K. Galbraith (The New Industrial State, 1966). More recently, the Reith lectures have been delivered by the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks (The Persistence of Faith, 1990) and Dr Steve Jones (The Language of the Genes, 1991).

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering