Whether it is the challenge of feeding a global population of 10 billion or bringing peace to the Middle East there is always an idea to conquer the world.
Some of the brightest and the best will be highlighted when York Festival of Ideas hosts ten days of world-class speakers and events from June 12.
The shadow of war falls over the 2014 festival, taking place on the centenary of the outbreak of The Great War which is the theme of a number of the 140 events.
But there will be more to the theme of Order and Chaos, than a Long Way to Tipperary and the trenches.
The launch will feature an international panel of experts who will focus on the global reaction to the crisis in the Middle East and Ukraine.
An assessment will be provided by statesmen such as James Rubin, Assistant Secretary of State for Bill Clinton, and Sir Richard Dalton, former UK Ambassador to Iran and Libya.
The Crossroads of Conflict event will examine how the international response is measuring up, including the role of the US.
Joining the debate will be Lyse Doucet, BBC chief international correspondent, and University of York Prof Sultan Barakat, director of the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit.
Festival Director Joan Concannon said: “We’re honoured internationally respected speakers of this calibre have agreed to open the Festival and provide a stimulating and thought-provoking night.
“The University of York, which leads on the organisation of the festival, plays a leading role in research in the areas of post-war conflict, human rights and social justice.”
But there will be something for everyone at the festival. For those who found Beowulf boring there is chance to hear it as it was meant to be read – in a pub while supping Anglo Saxon beer.
There will be tips on solving crossword puzzles – such as starting in the bottom right hand corner, and how listening to white noise helps you complete them.
Historians will be doing some myth-busting, including showing that rather than being well-run the British Empire was a bit of a shambles and the Roman Empire was frequently rocked by disaster.
The human mind also comes under the microscope as scientists debate whether decisions really can be made in a blink or an eye and if there is really such a thing as a “business brain”.
There will be a debate on whether criminals are mad or bad and whether their brains should be modified in childhood to stop them becoming violent criminals or psychopaths.
Going between the lines of the detective and spy novel will be writers such as Alex Rider creator Anthony Horowitz.
Warhorse author Michael Morpurgo will also be providing literary stardust while some of our finest poets will be asking whether illness makes people “better or verse” at the art.
A class in comic writing includes Charlie Higson being interviewed by his brother – York University academic Andrew Higson – about The Fast Show, Young Bond and Zombies.
There will also be tips on how to pedal a bike faster, work a railway signal box, and a few other things you did not think science could help with.
Crossroads of Conflict takes place from 6pm on June 12 at the University’s Ron Cooke Hub. To see the full programme and to book tickets visit: www.yorkfestivalofideas.com.