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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 72 - January 2012

Paragraph Contents
1.  Video and audio links of Faraday talks
2.  Advisory Board meeting
3.  Lent term Faraday seminars
4.  Faraday public lecture
5.  Faraday courses
6.  LASAR project team at the Association for Science Education
7.  LASAR day conference
8.  LASAR FaradaySchools website

The New Year provides a good opportunity for looking back as well as looking forwards. As we were preparing some reports for the annual Faraday Advisory Board Meeting, which takes place on Friday 6th January, we were amazed to notice that our seminars and lectures, which only began to be posted on the University of Cambridge video and audio web-site a little over a year ago, were viewed 250,983 times during 2011, making us the 7th most viewed entity within the University. See for further details. To put this in perspective, there are 92 University Institutions contributing to these outputs, including Cambridge’s 31 Colleges, as well as academic departments and other Institutes. The stats do not include the number of views from our own web-site which is hosted by St. Edmund’s College. The topics that are most viewed are intriguing. It seems that the brain is of particular interest. For example, a seminar given by neuroscientist Prof. Peter Clarke on 9th February last year entitled ‘Brain, Determinism and Free-Will’ has gained 8,234 views since that date. But other topics and speakers have also attracted high numbers. We now hope to post our complete archive of talks on this site, which will further increase the use of the hundreds of other talks given prior to 2011. Of course the complete collection can in any case be viewed in the Multimedia Folder at

This week’s Advisory Board meeting acts as a reminder to thank those who have recently left the Board after many years of invaluable help and advice – Sir John Houghton FRS and Prof. Gerard Nienhuis. We welcome on to the Board two new members, Dr Harvey McMahon FRS who is a group leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, and Prof. Michael Reiss who is Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Looking forward, we have a rich diet of activities planned for 2012. Next term’s Faraday Research Seminar series will start on Tuesday 24th January at 1.00 p.m. (free buffet lunch from 12.30 pm) with a talk by Dr David Gosling [University of Cambridge] entitled ‘Science and the Indian Tradition: When Einstein met Tagore’.

On Tuesday 14th February at 5.30 p.m. in the Queen’s Lecture Theatre at Emmanuel College, we have one of Europe’s best-known theologians, Prof. Jürgen Moltmann, previously Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen, giving this term’s Faraday Public Lecture under the title ‘From Physics to Theology – a Personal Story’.  Prof. Moltmann, who spent several years in British prisoner-of-war camps, will be recounting how the profound experiences that he had during the Second World War led him from physics into a career in theology. He has made important contributions to the dialogue between theology and science ever since.

The Faraday Courses planned for this year promise to be very popular, so early registration is recommended if you wish to attend. Our second course of the year, ‘Science, Religion and Atheism’ Course (30 March – 1 April), is filling up fast. The aim of this course is to address questions such as 'Does the science-religion discussion look any different if the narrators are atheists or theists?' Thus, rather than holding a debate on the existence of God, we shall be addressing these topics: 'Does the history of science and religion change depending on the narrator?'; 'How do the philosophy of science and philosophy of religion look from atheist and theistic perspectives?'; 'Does the evolutionary narrative, or the fine-tuning of the universe, tend to support atheism or theism?' We have invited a balanced mix of atheists, agnostics and theists to speak at the course. More details plus on-line registration can be found at

The LASAR (Learning About Science and Religion) team will be presenting a session at this year’s annual conference at the Association for Science Education at the University of Liverpool. The conference is open to the public who can register on the day. The LASAR workshop will take place on Thursday 5th January 2012, 4pm-5pm, in the Sir Alistair Pilkington Building, G20. It is called, ‘Science, God or both? Answering pupils’ questions about science and religion’.

This year’s LASAR conference is called, ‘Creativity, Creation, and a Big Bang: Science and Religion in the School Curriculum’. The conference will be held at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, on Saturday 19th May, 2012. Registration costs just £20. Details and registration forms are online at Conference.php.

A promotional campaign for the FaradaySchools website (at is about to begin with an advertisement to appear in the Times Educational Supplement on13th January.

Denis Alexander Bob White
[Director]  [Associate Director]