"Science and the future: Death - nothing more certain?" - Oxford Literary Festival

Past Event

23 March 2013, 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Corpus Christi College
Merton Street, Oxford, OX1 4JF

This event is part of the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. Ticket details below.

Death - nothing more certain?

From Neolithic burials to Mozart's Requiem and the novels of Martin Amis, humans have fashioned cultural responses to the inevitability of each individual's demise. But what does science have to say about death? In a stimulating afternoon of panel discussions, scientists and writers debate the impact of future advances in science and technology on our understanding of the end.

2pm - Introduction: Georgina Ferry, science writer and author

All panel discussions will be chaired by Georgina Ferry

2.10pm - Panel 1: Facing death

What are the living mechanisms that break down when things die? What extremes can the body endure and survive? How have microbes evolved that kill their hosts?

  • Frances Ashcroft FRS, Glaxo SmithKline Royal Society Research Professor, University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford, author of The Spark of Life (Allen Lane 2012);
  • Kevin Fong, Consultant in Anaesthesia, Director of the Centre for Aviation, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine, University College London, author of Extremes: Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body (Hodder 2013);
  • Sunetra Gupta, Principal Investigator, Oxford Martin Programme on Vaccines; Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, University of Oxford and novelist

3.20 - 3.50pm - Afternoon tea

3.50pm Panel 2: A necessary end?

Can we rejuvenate ourselves with spare parts grown in the laboratory? Can technology provide a longer-term substitute for living bodies and brains? For how long can - or should - the end be postponed?

  • Donna Dickenson, philosopher and bioethicist, author of Bioethics: all that matters (Hodder 2012)
  • Paul Fairchild, Co-Director, Oxford Stem Cell Institute, Oxford Martin School
  • Adam Rutherford, geneticist, writer and TV presenter, author of Creation: The Story of Life on Earth and How We Are About to Start it Again (Viking 2013);
  • Anders Sandberg, James Martin Fellow, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford Martin School

Tickets are £25 for both panel discussions and to book tickets please visit this Tickets Oxford webpage

5.15 pm - Death or Glory: a fusion of stand-up comedy and science

Your host is geek songstress and comedian, Helen Arney, of Edinburgh Fringe favourite, Festival of the Spoken Nerd. Also staring death in the face and seeing the funny side will be fellow escapees from Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage - Andrew Ponzen, Adam Rutherford and Kevin Fong, plus award-winning Canadian comedian Mae Martin, and Suzie Sheehy who puts the fizz in particle physics.

Tickets are £20.00 including wine and to book tickets please visit this Tickets Oxford webpage. (£40 with Science and the future, save £5, telephone bookings only, 0870 343 1001)

This event is organised in partnership with the Oxford Martin School, Science Oxford and the Oxfordshire Science Festival