A date for the Diary – Uncertain futures at Oxford Lit fest

Science and the Future – Uncertain Futures

2:00pm | Saturday 24 March

Tickets: Duration: Venue:
£47 Half Day Merton College: TS Eliot Theatre
 (looking forward to this – programme has just been confirmed. I’ll be pitching in for the last bit: are we safe? With Anders Sandberg and Rebecca Stott…)

Introduced by Dr Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

For the second year the festival is devoting a whole afternoon to a series of panel discussions around a common scientific theme. The umbrella title for these themed afternoons is Science and the Future. The theme for 2012 is Uncertain Futures.

We still have much to learn about the nature of the Universe. And we continually set ourselves new questions about the impact that technology and social change will make on ourselves and on our environment. Through three panel discussions, this seminar will explore the question of how we deal with uncertainty in science.

The afternoon is chaired by science writer and author Georgina Ferry and has been developed in partnership with the University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School, which supports 30 interdisciplinary research teams tackling global challenges, and with Science Oxford Live.

The programme is designed to offer a more in-depth review of key issues and the opportunity to meet and talk with speakers both over tea and at an evening drinks reception.

2.10 – 3.10pm
Into the unknown

As our tools for studying the Universe get bigger and more expensive, the questions that still need answering become ever more intractable. Will the latest experiments find the answers? Or will there just be more questions? And does it matter?

Professor Frank Close, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, author ofThe Infinity Puzzle, the story of the search for the elusive Higgs particle; Joanna Dunkley, lecturer in astrophysics, University of Oxford, researching the nature of dark matter and dark energy – without which the Universe would collapse, but which have never been seen; and William Hartston, chess columnist and writer of the Daily Express ‘Beachcomber’ column, and author of The Things Nobody Knows: 501 Mysteries of Life, the Universe and Everything.

3.10 – 3.45pm Tea

3.45 – 4.45pm
Working with Uncertainty

Quantum physics and climate prediction are two areas of science particularly burdened with uncertainty. But can we use our understanding of that uncertainty for practical ends?

John Gribbin, science writer and author of In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat andErwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution, a new biography of one of the fathers of quantum theory; and Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford, and co-director of the programme on modelling and predicting climate at the Oxford Martin School. A further speaker is to be confirmed.

5– 6pm
Are we safe (and do we need to be)?

Technology is changing our world at a breathless pace. How important is it to assess its risks accurately? And is there a place for risk in both artistic and scientific creativity?

Anders Sandberg, research fellow in the Future of Humanity Institute at the Oxford Martin School, working on social and ethical issues surrounding new technology; Jon Turney, author of The Rough Guide to the Future, shortlisted for the 2011 Royal Society Science Books Prize; and Rebecca Stott, novelist and teacher of creative writing at the University of East Anglia, author ofGhostwalk and The Coral Thief.

6.00 – 6.30pm Drinks reception.

Science and the Future is presented in partnership with the Oxford Martin School of the University of Oxford and Science Oxford

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