Oxford Literary Festival: Science and the future, "Uncertain futures"

Past Event

24 March 2012, 3:00pm - 8:30pm

Merton College
Merton Street, Oxford OX1 4JD

This event is hosted by the Oxford Martin School and the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival

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.

2pm - Introduction: Professor Ian Goldin, Director, Oxford Martin School

All panel discussions will be chaired by Georgina Ferry, Science Writer

2.10pm - Panel 1: 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, Emeritus Professor, Department of Physics, University of Oxford
  • Joanna Dunkley, Lecturer and RCUK Fellow, Department of Physics, University of Oxford
  • William Hartston, Chess columnist and writer of Daily Express "Beachcomber’" column; author of "The Things Nobody Knows: 501 Mysteries of Life, the Universe and Everything"

3.10-3.45pm - Afternoon tea

3.45pm Panel 2: 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, author of "In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat" and "Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution", a new biography of the discoverer of quantum uncertainty.
  • Tim Head, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London
  • Professor Tim Palmer, Co-Director, Oxford Martin Programme on Modelling and Predicting Climate

5pm - Panel 3: 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?

6pm-6.30pm - Drinks reception

Tickets are £47 for all 3 panel discussions and to book tickets please visit the Oxford Literary Festival webpage

6.30pm - Special Additional Event:

Unknown unknowns - a fusion of stand-up comedy and science

Join Helen Arney, Steve Mould, Rob Wells and Dr Andrew Pontzen (James Martin Fellow with the Programme on Computational Cosmology) to take a look at the known-and unknown-universe with wit and comedic wisdom using sketches, songs and stand-up. £10 or £8 when booking tickets for Science and the Future: Uncertain Futures.