Science and the Future: The Future of Life (Oxford Literary Festival)

Past Event

03 April 2011, 3:00pm - 8:00pm


“The Future of Life” is an afternoon of panel discussions presented as part of a new collaboration on “Science and the Future” that has been developed with the Oxford Literary Festival and Science Oxford with the aim of bringing innovative insights and cutting-edge science to new audiences.

Chaired by science writer and author Georgina Ferry, the programme is designed to offer an in-depth review of key issues and the opportunity to meet and talk with the speakers both over tea and at an evening drinks reception.

Organised as part of the Oxford Literary Festival. To book tickets, please click here.

Location: Corpus Christi College

The event starts at 2pm, with an introduction by Dr Ian Goldin, Director of the Oxford Martin School

2.10-3.10pm: SYNTHETIC LIFE

Do we know enough to create life from its building blocks? What might we do with such knowledge? Is it right to engineer nature? How does having this power change our view of ourselves and of life?

  • Professor Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Prize winner and President of the Royal Society
  • Professor Julian Savulescu, Institute for Science and Ethics, Oxford Martin School
  • Professor Ben Davis, Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford
  • Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, designer, artist and writer

3.10-3.45pm: Tea - panellists from both Synthetic Life and Diversity of Life will be present.


We share the planet with millions of other species, but our activities threaten them. Does this matter? Should we care about biodiversity for its own sake, or is it essential to our own survival? What will be the impact of humanity on the future evolution of life on earth?

  • Professor Kathy Willis, Director of the Biodiversity Institute, Oxford Martin School
  • Dr Nick Lane, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London
  • Angela Palmer, artist

5.00-6.00pm: LIFE IN SPACE

What conditions enabled life to evolve on Earth? What is the likelihood that such conditions exist elsewhere in the Universe? Could there be other forms of life, not based on the biochemistry we find here? Why does it matter so much to us to know whether or not we are alone?

  • Professor Pedro Ferreira, Director of the Programme on Computational Cosmology, Oxford Martin School
  • Dr Lewis Dartnell, researcher in astrobiology at University College London
  • Anu Ojha, Director of the Space Academy Partnership at the National Space Centre
  • Lavinia Greenlaw, poet

6.00pm: Drinks reception - speakers from Life in Space will be present

This event is part of the Oxford Literary Festival. Tickets cost £45.00, including afternoon tea and drinks reception. Tickets are available through the Oxford Playhouse.

Other Oxford Martin School events at the Literary Festival include: