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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 60 - January 2011

The fact that this is our monthly Newsletter No 60 will immediately alert you to the fact that this month we celebrate our Fifth Anniversary. The Faraday Institute was started exactly five years ago this January.

From the beginning we have had an Advisory Board of distinguished academics chaired by Sir Brian Heap FRS, previously Master of St. Edmund’s College and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society. Each year some move off the Board and we welcome others in their place. Last year the Nobel Laureate Prof. Sir Martin Evans FRS and Prof. Keith Fox joined the Board, and more recently Prof. Russell Cowburn FRS, Cambridge University’s new Professor of Nanotechnology. We are grateful to the Board for their help and advice in our activities. Every year there is an Annual Board meeting held at St. Edmund’s College.

The New Year promises once again to be one full of interesting events and activities. For those in the Cambridge area who are starting to fill up their new diaries here are some dates to remember. On Tuesday 25th January we welcome our first speaker to the new series of Faraday Research Seminars which are held in the Garden Room Seminar Room at St. Edmund’s College at 1.00 p.m. preceded by a free light buffet lunch from 12.30 p.m. The speaker to launch this new series is Prof. Andrew Wyllie FRS, Chair of the Dept of Pathology here in the University, who will speak on ‘How and Why Cells Die - Biological and Theological Perspectives’. As background to this title it is worth knowing that Prof. Wyllie was one of the early discoverers of apoptosis, the process whereby all nucleated cells of the body are programmed to die. The full seminar programme for this coming term (including a downloadable poster) may be found at: Seminars.php.

Our Public Lecture next term will be given by Dr Jennifer Wiseman on Tuesday 1st March in the Queen’s Lecture Theatre at Emmanuel College at 5.30 p.m. with the title ‘Exoplanets, Life and Human Significance’. Dr Wiseman is an astronomer, speaker, and author, recently appointed as the senior project scientist for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center, where she previously headed the Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics.

Test of Faith events are continuing into 2011, with our first schools event at Princes Risborough on 20th January. The tour continues, with events on request – the first stop will be Durham on 19th February. Please contact Dr Ruth Bancewicz at if you would like to host either a schools event or the tour (both are currently only in the UK). And Dr Bancewicz will be taking part in a science-faith weekend conference, at Lee Abbey in Devon, at the end of January (bookings at

Places are still available at ‘The Georges Lemaître Anniversary Conference’ organised by the Faraday Institute and to be held at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Thursday 7th April – Sunday 10th April, 2011. In collaboration with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, the Conference is being held to mark the 80th anniversary of the publication of Lemaître’s seminal work on the ‘Primeval Atom’ (which we now know as the Big Bang). On-line registration is available at:
Conference.php and registration now is encouraged to avoid disappointment as places are limited. Limited bursary funds are available for those who wish to attend from low-income countries.

This summer, the Faraday Institute is hosting a one-day conference in Cambridge called, Science and Religious Education in Schools: New Possibilities (25th June 2011). The day is organised by the LASAR project team for those with an interest in the teaching and learning of science and religion. It will suit teachers and trainee teachers of science and religious education in primary and secondary schools. Join us to share ideas; hear from lead researchers; ask questions of an expert panel and to network over a buffet lunch (which is included within the fee). There will also be a presentation of the LASAR research project initial findings. Speakers include Prof. Sir Colin Humphreys, Prof. Mary James (Chair), Dr Keith Taber and Prof. Michael Reiss. The cost is £20 (£10 for trainee teachers/students in higher education) and you can register now via the conferences section of the Faraday Institute’s website at Conference.php.

Our usual repertoire of Faraday Courses will be held this year and the details will be posted on the Courses section of our web-site as the programmes are finalised. It is not too soon to start thinking about our very popular Summer Course, which this year will take place July 17-23 under the overall title ‘Science and Religion in Dialogue in 2011’. We find that our Summer Courses fill up quicker than ever before, so early registration is recommended - on-line registration is already available. In 2006 we advertised our Summer Course as it was of course completely unknown in our first year. We no longer have any need to advertise – it fills up anyway. A special feature of 2011 is an extending repertoire of Faraday Courses overseas, in every case organised locally. Venues will include Adelaide (Australia), Dunedin (New Zealand) and Kerala (India).

December was a relatively quiet time for speaking at meetings, although the Director spoke to around 150 boys at Merchant Taylor’s School on the topic ‘Has Science Killed God?’ and his 30 minute interview with Joan Bakewell in a series called ‘Belief’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 9.00 p.m. on 29th December. If you move fast those within the UK have until Jan 5th to listen to the interview on BBC iPlayer at: The Director has also been busy blogging and if you are interested in human genetics, human origins, and theological questions arising, then there are items:

At Huffington Post:

At Biologos, a 4-part series starts at:

Or the complete essay (containing the four separate blogs) may be down-loaded from:

Denis Alexander Bob White

[Director] [Associate Director]