What to say by way of introduction to New Scientist Live, the biggest science festival in the world? Just this: I know from experience that your time there will reward you again and again with the invigoration you get from exposure to the sheer number of ideas.
With dozens of presentations from world-renowned scientists and authors, it is not easy to choose a list of ten. And while there’s actually a Doctor Who TARDIS on the show, all of the talk will be available to stream on demand afterwards, so there’s plenty of opportunity to catch up and binge. So here are some of the discussions that I particularly look forward to. And forgive number eleven.
Nichola Raihani: Believing the Incredible: The Science of Paranoia and Conspiratorial Thinking
Mind and Body Stage, October 08, 2022, 2:35 p.m. – 3:25 p.m.
Evolutionary biologist Professor Nichola Raihani will explore the evolution of paranoia and examine its role in mental health issues and conspiracy theories, while shedding light on the logic and benefits of paranoia. Paranoia is the most common symptom of psychosis and is often considered a cognitive dysfunction. But is this really the best way to understand paranoid beliefs? Join Nichola Raihani as she presents an evolutionary perspective to illuminate the logic – and even the benefits – of paranoia.
Chris Jackson: The Geological Records of Climate Change
Future Stage, 09 October 2022, 13:25 – 14:15
Once I foolishly thought that rocks were only interesting if they contained fossils. Professor Chris Jackson helped me see the error of my ways. In this talk, he will examine the geological record of climate change, how these changes have impacted life on Earth, and how this can help us better understand our current and future climate. I also hope for cool volcano images.
Emma Byrne: A Brief History of Your Brain
Mind and Body Workshop, October 08, 2022, 11:55 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Our brains are incredibly adaptable and rewire during our first two decades of life. It is one of the characteristics that underlies the success and intelligence of our species. Neuroscientist and author Dr. Emma Byrne examines the secrets of this adaptability, focusing on what happens in the first two decades of life. Great for understanding teenagers, though hopefully older brains retain some flexibility…
Agnijo Banerjee: The greatest number in the world
Future Stage, 08 October 2022, 15:45 – 16:35
Agnijo Banerjee is like a math knight – he’s on an epic quest for unfathomable numbers. For my part, I need to know if there are more grains of sand on Earth or stars in the universe. Is there enough paper on Earth to write the numbers in a googolplex? If you don’t even know what a googolplex is, this is where you will find out.
Gaia Vince: Nomad Century: The Great Climate Change
Our Planet Stage, 08 Oct 2022 11:55 – 12:45
In a time of planetary and species emergency, we need solutions, and we need them now. For every degree the temperature rises, a billion people will be displaced as swathes of the world become uninhabitable. In this talk, Gaia Vince, Royal Society Prize-winning author, will describe how we can use managed climate migration for our survival while restoring the planet’s habitability.
Simon Baron-Cohen: Pattern Seekers
Future Stage, 08 October 2022, 11:55 – 12:45
World-renowned autism expert Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has a truly bold new theory about what has driven human progress over the past 70,000 to 100,000 years – it’s an idea he developed through to his work on autism – and it could really change the way we think of non-neurotypical people. By connecting one of our greatest human strengths – if-and-then invention – to a condition so often misunderstood, this talk will inspire us to think differently about those who think differently.
Jeff Forshaw: Black Holes
Universe Stage, October 08, 2022, 3:45 p.m. – 4:35 p.m.
Black holes are endlessly fascinating objects because of how they force us to tackle the biggest questions in physics. Plus, we all want to know what would happen if we fell out of it. In this talk, particle physicist Professor Jeff Forshaw will examine the consequences of trying to track the flow of information into and out of a black hole. We will discover that space and time are emergent features related to quantum entanglement – something we all need to be aware of.
Adam Rutherford: The dark history and troubling present of eugenics
Mind and Body Stage, 08 October 2022 10:45 – 11:35
You might think eugenics is something heinous the Nazis wanted to do – evil, but it happened a long time ago. You would be wrong, as you will learn in this important speech by Dr. Adam Rutherford. The idea that we are able to control and program genetic changes to complex traits such as intelligence is overblown – despite what you might hear to the contrary.
Chris and Xand van Tulleken: Ultra-processed foods
Mind and Body Stage, 09 October 2022, 10:45 – 11:35
Make sure you eat a good breakfast before watching this talk. Twin doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken reveal that in the UK we get more than half of our calories from ultra-processed foods. Is this a bad thing? Make up your mind after learning what these foods do to our body. This is a real informative speech that you can use.
Nick Lane: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death
Our Planet Stage, 09 Oct 2022, 10:45 – 11:35
Professor Nick Lane has written some of the most insightful books I have read in recent years. In this talk, he’ll describe his latest idea, based on a reassessment of the Krebs cycle – the biochemical reactions that power our cells – which you may remember from your studies. Nick will show that conditions on early Earth can lead to the biochemistry we see at the heart of life. It doesn’t go much further than explaining life – but Nick also connects it to the emergence of consciousness.
Rowan Hooper: How to Spend a Trillion Dollars
Future stadium, 08 October 2022 14:35 – 15:25
Yes, I am vulgar enough to recommend my own conference in a list of must-attend conferences. I’m going to talk about my book, How to spend a trillion dollars. I’m biased, but I think it’s important because we can be paralyzed by the scale of global problems, and I’m showing in this conference that the solutions and the money are there. It’s also an interactive conversation – I want to know how you would spend the money. It’s not every day you pretend to spend a trillion dollars – so let’s go!
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