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Arising from the 2020 Darwin College Lectures, this book presents eight essays from prominent public intellectuals on the theme of Enigmas. Each author examines this theme through the lens of their own particular area of expertise, together constituting an illuminating and diverse interdisciplinary volume. Enigmas features contributions by professor of physics Sean M. Carroll, author Jo Marchant, writer and broadcaster Adam Rutherford, professor of earth sciences Tamsin A. Mather, professor of the history of the book Erik Kwakkel, reader in cultural history Tiffany Watt Smith, mathematician and public speaker James Grime, assistant professor of positive AI J. Derek Lomas, and explorer Albert Y.- M. Lin. This volume will appeal to anyone fascinated by puzzles and mysteries, solved and unsolved.
Blood is life, its complex composition is finely attuned to our vital needs and functions. Blood can also signify death, while 'bloody' is a curse. Arising from the 2021 Darwin College Lectures, this volume invites leading thinkers on the subject to explore the many meanings of blood across a diverse range of disciplines. Through the eyes of artist Marc Quinn, the paradoxical nature of blood plays with the notion of self. Through those of geneticist Walter Bodmer, it becomes a scientific reality: bloodlines and diaspora capture our notions of community. The transfer of blood between bodies, as Rose George relates, can save lives, or as we learn from Claire Roddie can cure cancer. Tim Pedley and Stuart Egginton explore the extraordinary complexity of blood as a critical biological fluid. Sarah Read examines the intimate connection between blood and womanhood, as Carol Senf does in her consideration of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.
Arising from the 2019 Darwin College Lectures, this book presents essays from seven prominent public intellectuals on the theme of vision. Each author examines this theme through the lens of their own particular area of expertise, making for a lively interdisciplinary volume including chapters on neuroscience, colour perception, biological evolution, astronomy, the future of technology, computer vision, and the visionary core of science. Featuring contributions by professors of neuroscience Paul Fletcher and Anya Hurlbert, professor of zoology Dan-Eric Nilsson, the futurist Sophie Hackford, Microsoft distinguished scientist Andrew Blake, theoretical physicist and author Carlo Rovelli, and Dr Carolin Crawford, the Public Astronomer at the University of Cambridge, this volume will be of interest to anybody curious about how we see the world.
Migration is in the news every day. Whether it be the plight of refugees fleeing Syria, or the outbreak of the Zika virus across Latin America, the modern world is fundamentally shaped by movement across borders. Migration, arising from the 2018 Darwin College Lectures, brings together eight leading scholars across the arts, humanities, and sciences to help tackle one of the most important topics of our time. What is migration? How has it changed the world? And how will it shape the future? The authors approach these questions from a variety of perspectives, including history, politics, epidemiology, and art. Chapters related to policy, as well as those written by leading journalists and broadcasters, give perspective on how migration is understood in the media, and engage the public more widely. This interdisciplinary approach provides an original take on migration, providing new insights into the making of the modern world.
Humanity is confronted by and attracted to extremes. Extreme events shape our thinking, feeling, and actions; they echo in our politics, media, literature, and science. We often associate extremes with crises, disasters, and risks to be averted, yet extremes also have the potential to lead us towards new horizons. Featuring essays by leading intellectuals and public figures arising from the 2017 Darwin College Lectures, this volume explores 'extreme' events, from the election of President Trump, the rise of populism, and the Brexit referendum, to the 2008 financial crisis, the Syrian war, and climate change. It also celebrates 'extreme' achievements in the realms of health, exploration, and scientific discovery. A fascinating, engaging, and timely collection of essays by renowned scholars, journalists, and intellectuals, this volume challenges our understanding of what is normal and what is truly extreme, and sheds light on some of the issues facing humanity in the twenty-first century.
This volume collects essays from prominent intellectuals and public figures based on talks given at the 2015 Darwin College Lectures on the theme of 'development'. The writers are world-renowned experts in such diverse fields as architecture, astronomy, biology, climate science, economy, psychology, sports and technology. Development includes contributions from developmental biologist and Nobel laureate John B. Gurdon, Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger, astronomer and cosmologist Richard Ellis, developmental psychologist Bruce Hood, former Met Office Chief Scientist Julia Slingo, architect Michael Pawlyn, development economist Ha-Joon Chang and serial entrepreneur Hermann Hauser. While their perspectives and interpretations of development vary widely, their essays are linked by a common desire to describe and understand how things change, usually in the direction of ever-increasing complexity. Written with the lay reader in mind, this interdisciplinary book is a must-read for anybody interested in the mechanisms underlying the changes we see in the world around us.
The essays from prominent public intellectuals collected in this volume reflect an array of perspectives on the spectrum of conflict, competition, and cooperation, as well as a wealth of expertise on how games manifest in the world, how they operate, and how social animals behave inside them. They include previously unpublished material by former Cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi, the philosopher A. C. Grayling, legal scholar Nicola Padfield, cycling coach David Brailsford, former military intelligence officer Frank Ledwidge, neuro-psychologist Barbara J. Sahakian, zoological ecologist Nicholas B. Davies, and the final work of the late Nobel laureate Thomas C. Schelling. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history, nature, and dynamics of games.
Plagues have inflicted misery and suffering throughout history. They can be traced through generations in our genes, with echoes in religion and literature. Featuring essays arising from the 2014 Darwin College Lectures, this book examines the spectrum of tragic consequences of different types of plagues, from infectious diseases to over-population and computer viruses. The essays analyse the impact that plagues have had on humanity and animals, and their threat to the very survival of the world as we know it. On the theme of plagues, each essay takes a unique perspective, ranging from the impact of plagues on history, medicine, the evolution of species, and biblical metaphors, to their impact on national economies, and even our highly connected digital lifestyles. This engaging and timely collection challenges our understanding of plagues, and asks if plagues are the manifestation of nature's checks and balances in light of human population growth and our impact on climate change.
How do attempts to foresee the future actually change it? For thousands of years, humans have called upon foresight to shape their own actions in order to adapt and survive; as Charles Darwin revealed in his theory of natural selection, the capacity to do just that is key to the origin of species. The uses of foresight, however, can also be applied to help us further our understanding across a variety of realms in everything from warfare, journalism and music, to ancient civilizations, space weather and science. In a thought-provoking new addition to the Darwin College Lecture Series, eight distinguished authors each present an essay from their area of expertise devoted to the theme of 'foresight'. This provocative read reveals foresight as a process that can be identified across all areas of human endeavour, an art which can not only predict the future, but make it anything but inevitable.
Life is a compelling addition to the Darwin College Lecture Series, in which eight distinguished authors each present an essay from their area of expertise devoted to the theme of 'life'. The book forges connections between art, science and the humanities in a vibrant and thought-provoking collection that exposes both conventional and unconventional views on the meaning of life, the enigmatic boundaries between the living and the dead, and what may or may not follow afterwards. This collection arises from the Darwin College Lecture Series of 2012 and includes contributions from eight distinguished scholars, all of whom are held in esteem not only for their research, but also for their ability to communicate their subject to popular audiences.
Beauty challenges conventional approaches to the subject through an interdisciplinary approach that forges connections between the arts, sciences and mathematics. Classical, conventional aspects of beauty are addressed in subtle, unexpected ways: symmetry in mathematics, attraction in the animal world and beauty in the cosmos. This collection arises from the Darwin College Lecture Series of 2011 and includes essays from eight distinguished scholars, all of whom are held in esteem not only for their research but also for their ability to communicate their subject to popular audiences. Each essay is entertaining, accessible and thought-provoking and is accompanied by images illustrating beauty in practice. Contributors include the artist José Hernández, Nobel Prize Laureate Frank Wilczek, Lord May of Oxford and Jeanne Altmann (Eugene Higgins Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University).
Recent events from the economic downturn to climate change mean that there has never been a better time to be thinking about and trying to better understand the concept of risk. In this book, prominent and eminent speakers from fields as diverse as statistics to classics, neuroscience to criminology, politics to astronomy, as well as speakers embedded in the media and in government, have put their ideas down on paper in a series of essays that broaden our understanding of the meaning of risk. The essays come from the prestigious Darwin College Lecture Series which, after twenty-five years, is one of the most popular public lecture series at the University of Cambridge. The risk lectures in 2010 were amongst the most popular yet and, in essay form, they make for a lively and engaging read for specialists and non-specialists alike.
Conflict, sadly, is part of our everyday life; experienced at home, in the workplace, on our TV screens. But is it an inevitable part of the fabric of our existence? In this volume, eight experts examine conflict at many levels, from the workings of genes to the evolution of galaxies. Evolutionary biologist David Haig examines why we disagree with ourselves, and psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen asks whether differences between the average male and female mind must necessarily lead to misunderstanding. Anthropologist Richard Wrangham explores why chimpanzees and humans have evolved to kill, while archaeologist Barry Cunliffe examines the roots of warfare. Political scientist Lisa Anderson analyses conflict in the Middle East, and broadcaster Kate Adie reflects on television reporting of war. The book concludes with industrial economist William Brown's discussion of conflict in labour relations, and an exploration of the creative and destructive effects of cosmic violence by physicist P. C. W. Davies.
In this book, first published in 2006, seven internationally renowned writers address the theme of Power from the perspective of their own disciplines. Energy expert Mary Archer begins with an exploration of the power sources of our future. Astronomer Neil Tyson leads a tour of the orders of magnitude in the cosmos. Mathematician and inventor of the Game of Life John Conway demonstrates the power of simple ideas in mathematics. Screenwriter Maureen Thomas explains the mechanisms of narrative power in the media of film and videogames, Elisabeth Bronfen the emotional power carried by representations of life and death, and Derek Scott the power of patriotic music and the mysterious Mozart effect. Finally, celebrated parliamentarian Tony Benn critically assesses the reality of power and democracy in society.
What is time? St Augustine famously claimed that he knew the answer as long as no one asked him for it, but as soon as he tried to explain it he no longer knew. Part of the problem is the intricate nature of the question. Every individual will approach the question 'what is time?' from a different perspective. We find ourselves asking whether time is linear or cyclic, whether it is endless, whether it is possible to travel in time, how the experience of the flow of time arises, how our own internal clocks are regulated and how our language captures the temporality of our existence. In this volume eight eminent researchers explore how investigations in their respective fields impinge on questions about the nature of time. These fields encompass the entire range from the arts and humanities to the natural sciences, mirroring the truly interdisciplinary nature of the subject.
This engaging volume for the general reader explores how individuals and societies remember, forget and commemorate events of the past. The collection of eight essays takes an interdisciplinary approach to address the relationships between individual experience and collective memory, with leading experts from the arts and sciences. We might expect scientists to be concerned with studying just the mental and physical processes involved in remembering, and humanities scholars to be interested in the products of memory, such as books, statues and music. This collection exposes the falseness of such a dichotomy, illustrating the insights into memory which can be gained by juxtaposing the complementary perspectives of specialists venturing beyond the normal boundaries of their disciplines. The authors come from backgrounds as diverse as psychoanalysis, creative writing, neuroscience, social history and medicine.
Cutting across boundaries of art and science, evolution is a fundamental process that has beguiled thinkers through the ages. This collection draws together world-renowned thinkers and communicators with their own intriguing insights. In these essays they offer a feast of dazzling thoughts and ideas to challenge and enthral the reader. Why and how do civilizations and societies change over time? Why do our cells develop the way they do? Why are some villages still villages while others have grown into vast cities? Can we learn from our evolutionary past to plan a better future for our health and society? Tracing a line from the history of biological evolution, through the evolution of cultures, society, science and the universe, Evolution brings together intriguing parallels from all levels of life. From the evolution of the developing embryo to the evolution of a developing star, common threads develop into a fascinating story.
The Fragile Environment explores the impact of the human species on its environment and deals with such topical and urgent questions as the death of forests, acid rain and pollution, desertification, the greenhouse effect and other disruptions to the global climate. The eight contributors, all international authorities, address themselves to a broad general readership.
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