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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 7 - July 2006

We have been very grateful this month to hold our very first Faraday Summer Course in one of the few air-conditioned seminar rooms in any Cambridge College - the Okinaga Room at the top of the St. Edmund's College tower - as outside the soaring temperatures gave us the highest July temperature in Cambridge since records began. Forty-six delegates from 10 different countries, 30 per week with around half enrolled for both weeks, have been treated to a wonderful array of 31 speakers from 7 different countries giving us a total of 46 lectures in all over the 2-week period. Yes, it was an intense programme, but what was remarkable was the way in which delegates kept up with the pace. The 30 minute question periods after each lecture never had to finish early through lack of questions, which kept coming thick and fast, and nearly every evening panel discussions were held featuring the speakers for that particular day. Outings included a 'history of science' tour of Cambridge and a visit to the Darwin Papers held in the Archives Room of the Cambridge University Library.

 Perhaps the award for the speaker who had the toughest time getting to the Course must go to Sir Ghillean Prance who was the closing speaker at an environmental conference held in a 'floating hotel' on the river Amazon in Brazil on Thursday, 20 July. From here he flew all night to be in England by the following day, losing his luggage en route, but arriving in time to give an after-dinner lecture at the gala dinner which closed the first week of the Course that Friday evening.

One delegate remarked, "The speakers have been top quality." Another said "I want to thank you again for the stimulating lectures." And one was even heard to say, "Heaven on earth!", although that was probably at the beginning of the Course before they realised how full the schedule was!

 All the lectures from the Course were filmed and recorded and both MP3 and video streams will be posted on the web-site in due course. But many people find it more convenient to collect the lectures in CD or DVD formats, and these are already available at £3 or £5 each, respectively, simply by e-mailing Bekki Pearce at

 We are now looking forward to our next weekend Course in September on 'Science, Faith and Society' which will be held at Westminster College, Cambridge from 22-24 September (see for details and application form). We still have a few places left on this Course, so please pass on the details to any whom you think might be interested. The speakers include the Rt Hon. John Gummer MP, who will be speaking on the way in which science and religion are handled in the political sphere; Prof. Derek Burke, formerly Vice-Chancellor at the University of East Anglia; Dr. David Cook, well known for his contributions to the programme the Moral Maze; Martin Redfern, BBC science producer; Michael Brooks, a journalist working for many years with the popular science magazine, The New Scientist; and Dr Peter Moore who has written and lectured widely on the ways in which new scientific technologies are received by the public. This promises to be a fascinating Course.

 The rest of the summer will now provide an opportunity for Faraday research projects to make progress and we have recently posted details of several more of our research projects up on the web-site (see: the Research Folder at

Best wishes

Denis Alexander     Bob White

 [Director, Faraday Institute]     [Associate Director]