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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 62 - March 2011

Yesterday 1st March we had a good crowd of 150 people who came to hear Jennifer Wiseman (senior project scientist for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center) give our termly Faraday Public Lecture entitled ‘Exoplanets, Life and Human Significance’. Unusually for a Faraday Lecturer, Dr Wiseman was interviewed beforehand on Woman’s Hour, a BBC radio programme that attracts two million listeners. Earlier in the afternoon, Dr Wiseman was also the speaker for a Faraday Schools workshop with students from Parkside Federation and Comberton Schools. These workshops are organised by the LASAR project team and the videos recorded at the workshop will go on to the FaradaySchools website (currently An updated version of the site – with Dr Wiseman’s excellent Q and A session - will be launched in the summer.

A quick reminder of the key Faraday events during March might be useful for those living in the Cambridge and London areas. Others living in other parts of the UK, or indeed in Madrid, might like to scroll down to the bottom to see a list of Faraday Speakers’ events in other areas for the month of March.

• Tuesday 8th March. Faraday Research Seminar. Scott Mandelbrote will speak on the topic ‘The Role of the Bible in the Emergence of Modern Science’. 1.00 p.m. in the Garden Seminar Room at St. Edmund’s College preceded by a light buffet at 12.30 p.m. The speaker on this occasion is a lecturer in history at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Peterhouse College.

• Saturday 19th March. Two performances of ‘Let Newton Be!’ in Cambridge at the Howard Lecture Theatre, Downing College, at 2.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. on Saturday 19th March. Tickets are on sale from the ADC Box-Office by email on, by phone on 01223 300085, or in person at the ADC, Park Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AS (opening hours Tue and Fri 12.30pm-7.00pm; Wed, Thurs and Sat 3.00pm-7.00pm).

• Saturday 26th March 2.30 p.m. Mill Lane Lecture Room 3 (half-way down Mill Lane on the southern side). A panel discussion entitled “Human Enhancement – How Far Should We Go?” as part of the Cambridge Science Festival.
Panel Members:
Dr Pete Moore (Author and Science Communicator)
Dr Anders Sandberg (The Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University)
Dr Georgia Testa (Lecturer in Medical Ethics, University of Leeds)
Prof. John Wyatt (Professor of Ethics and Perinatology, UCL)
Chair: Dr Denis Alexander (Director of the Faraday Institute)

Free, no tickets required. Bookstall afterwards.

• Monday 28th March 7.00 p.m. Royal Society, London. Performance of ‘Let Newton Be!’ for those in the London area. The play will be followed by a panel discussion on the fascinating questions raised by the script and, more broadly, on the relevance of Newton for the contemporary discussion between science and religion. The distinguished panel (chaired by the Faraday Director) comprises Lord Martin Rees FRS (Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and until recently President of The Royal Society), Prof. John Barrow FRS (Professor of Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University), Prof. John Hedley Brooke (Emeritus Professor of Science and Religion, Oxford University) and Prof. Robert Iliffe (Professor of Intellectual History and the History of Science, and Director of the online Newton Project, University of Sussex). The ticket price includes the play, panel discussion, and the drinks reception afterwards. This promises to be a fascinating evening and early booking is advised to secure a seat. Tickets are on-sale now on the Faraday web-site.

There is still time (but not much) to book a place for ‘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.

Test of Faith will be going on the road this month with its first schools events, including a week in the far north of Scotland in April. If you are interested in hosting a Test of Faith schools event (see please contact Ruth Bancewicz at

Planning is well underway for the LASAR summer conference and we encourage all interested to please sign up for this as soon as possible if you would like to attend. The conference is called, ‘Science and Religious Education in Schools: New Possibilities' (25th June 2011). 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). Speakers include Prof. Sir Colin Humphreys, Prof. Mary James (Chair), Dr Keith Taber and Prof. Michael Reiss. The cost is £20 (£10 for students) and you can register now via the conferences section of the Faraday Institute’s website at Conference.php.

The past month the Director took part in a multifaith Panel Discussion on science and religion held in Ely Cathedral and attended by 120 Sixth Formers from local schools and also spoke to 300 students in the Town Hall in Oxford in a meeting organised by the OICCU on the topic ‘Has Science Buried God?’. The Course Director spoke to three groups of students at Comberton Village College on ‘Science and Faith – Friends or Foes?’ and to the Norfolk Science and Faith Group on ‘Modern Cosmology, Stephen Hawking, and God’. In her ongoing work as leader of the Test of Faith Project, Ruth Bancewicz took a morning’s teaching at Destiny Bible College in Glasgow, held a film showing and discussion time for a local Cambridge church group, gave a lunchtime talk for 60 students at Surrey University on the compatibility of science and faith, spoke on ‘The making of Test of Faith’ at a day conference held by the Durham Christian in Science local group, and gave a seminar on ‘Are science and faith really in Conflict?’ at the Christian Resources Exhibition in Peterborough.

Denis Alexander Bob White
[Director]  [Associate Director]


3rd March 18.30 Salon de Actos, Facultad de Biologia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. Denis Alexander. ‘Science and Faith – From Darwin to Dawkins’ [with simultaneous translation into Spanish].

11th March 19.30 Jackson Lecture Theatre, University of Lincoln. Prof. Bob White. ‘Climate Change’.

13th March. 18.30. Middleton Hall, University of Hull. Denis Alexander. ‘Creation or Evolution – Do We Have to Choose?’.

15th March. 19.00. St. Luke’s Church, Parish of Chelsea. Denis Alexander. ‘Science and Religion’ [Lent Talk Series].

15th March. 20.00. Worcester Bible and Science Group. Rodney Holder. ‘Prayer and the Laws of Science’.

19th March. 9.00. St Columba’s Free Church, Edinburgh. Ruth Bancewicz, Test of Faith Presentation [Christians in Science Northern Conference].

23rd March. 13.05. Merton Hall Farmhouse, Cambridge, during Cambridge Science Festival. Rodney Holder. ‘My Science – My Faith’.

30th March 20.00 Benefice of Hurstbourne Priors, Prof. Bob White. ‘Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living’ [Lent Course 2011].

31st March 19.30 Lecture Theatre, University of Southampton. Prof. Bob White. ‘Natural Disasters – Acts of God?’.