Big Bangs, Biospheres and the Limits of Science - Professor Martin Rees
6 November 2012
Take a journey through the universe and beyond - to potential other universes in a 'multiverse' - when Professor Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of the UK, presents his Sydney Ideas talk 'Big Bangs, Biospheres and the Limits of Science' on Friday 9 November.
Co-presented by Sydney Ideas and the Faculty of Science, the talk will trace cosmic history from the big bang to galaxy formation to the emergence of planets like our Earth and the development of life.
Professor Martin Rees is one of the world's most eminent astronomers, as the UK's Astronomer Royal and until recently Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He was Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University for ten years. Professor Rees is a member of the House of Lords and was President of the Royal Society for the period 2005-2010.
"Astronomers have made astonishing progress in probing our cosmic environment. We have worked out that there was some mysterious 'beginning' nearly 14 billion years ago, and we understand in outline the emergence of atoms, galaxies, stars and planets," said Professor Rees.
"We also know that on at least one planet, life emerged and developed a complex biosphere of which we are part. We have recently learnt, moreover, that many other stars are orbited by retinues of planets - some resembling our Earth, and perhaps harbouring alien life."
Showing gorgeous images of our universe and its many fascinating components, Professor Rees will transport the audience on an astronomical adventure through space and time in this free public talk.
"Telescopes have revealed billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars. But there are intimations that physical reality is hugely more extensive than the domain our telescopes can probe," said Professor Rees.
"Indeed we may inhabit a 'multiverse' - living in the aftermath of one among an infinity of 'big bangs'. It's remarkable to consider the place of our universe.
"These advances in astronomy pose new questions: How 'special' is our Earth and the time in which we are living? Are there aspects of science that human brains will never grasp? What does the long-range future hold, for our cosmos and for 'post-human' evolution?"
Starting with astronomy and ending with a broader consideration of the limits of science, Professor Rees will discuss some of the issues explored in his latest book From Here to Infinity: Scientific Horizons.
Professor Rees is well placed to have a broad view of science, having been President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1994-95) and the Royal Astronomical Society (1992-94) and a trustee of the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Kennedy Memorial Trust, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the Cambridge Gates Trust, and having served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control and international collaboration in science.
He will receive a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) from the University of Sydney on 10 November for his work as a world-leading astronomer and key thinker on the future of humanity in the cosmos. The honorary degree ceremony will also see eminent Australians Cate Blanchett, Kate Grenville, Robin Warren and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu receive honorary doctorates in their relevant disciplines.
Enjoy a galactic getaway and cosmic cruise, as Professor Rees takes an exploratory expedition through Big Bangs, Biospheres and the Limits of Science.
Big Bangs, Biospheres and the Limits of Science - Professor Martin Rees:
Date: Friday 9 November 2012
Time: 6.30pm to 8.00pm
Venue: The Great Hall, the Quadrangle
Contact: Katynna Gill
Phone: 02 9351 6997