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Royal Institution Friday Evening Discourses kick off at UCL on 20th October

Publication date: Oct 16, 2006 2:53:03 PM

How can we explain consciousness? Does the greenhouse effect really account for global warming? And how does one fertilised egg develop into the diversity of cells which form the human body? These exciting scientific issues and many others will be raised by leading researchers in the ‘Royal Institution Friday Evening Discourses’, hosted by UCL (University College London).

UCL (University College London) Diary Notice

EVENT: Royal Institution Friday Evening Discourses Autumn 2006

WHEN: Each Friday from October 20th to November 24th, 7.20pm to 8.30pm

WHERE: Cruciform Building, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.

This term’s programme follows a successful series of discourses held in the spring, and assembles an esteemed group of speakers, including two UCL professors. This academic year’s discourses mark the 180th anniversary of both the founding of the Discourses by Michael Faraday, and the founding of UCL.

Many illustrious speakers have shared their experience at the forefront of cutting-edge research at the Royal Institution Friday Evening Discourses, including Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Thomas Henry Huxley, Frances Crick and Susan Greenfield. The invention of photography (1839); the beginnings of field theory (1846); and the existence of the fundamental particle later called the electron (1897) were all first announced at the discourses.

During 2006, the Royal Institution’s Grade 1 listed building in Albemarle Street is closed whilst it is being refurbished. This has provided the Royal Institution with the opportunity to enter into an exciting partnership with UCL, enabling this renowned series of lectures to continue uninterrupted. UCL will host the discourses until the end of the 2007 spring term, at which point they will resume at the Royal Institution building.

The full list of speakers in the autumn series is as follows:

* 20 October – ‘From chemicals to consciousness’, Baroness Susan Greenfield, Director of the Royal Institution and Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford;

* 27 October – ‘Climate change: past, present and future’, Dr Dave Griggs, Deputy Chief Scientist for the Met Office and Director of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research;

* 3 November – ‘From collapsing volcanoes to climate change’, Professor Bill McGuire, Professor of Geophysical Hazards and Director of the Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre;

* 10 November – ‘From cells to embryo: the magic of gastrulation’, Professor Claudio Stern, Head of the UCL Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology;

* 17 November – ‘The rediscovered Hooke folio: what happened next’, Professor Lisa Jardine CBE, Director of the Centre for Editing Lives & Letters and Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London;

* 24 November – ‘Bending minds: how technology can change who you are’, Dr Martin Westwell, Deputy Director of the Institute for the Future of the Mind at the University of Oxford.

Notes for Editors

1. For further information about the Friday Evening Discourses, or to obtain free press tickets, please contact Naomi Temple at the Royal Institution on: +44 (0)20 7670 2944 or

2. The Friday Evening Discourses begin promptly at 7.20pm and finish at 8.30pm, followed by a reception. Tickets are free for Royal Institution members, and cost £12 for non-members. To book tickets, visit the Royal Institution website ( or call the Events Team on: +44 (0)20 7409 2992. There are a limited number of free tickets available for UCL staff and students.

3. Please note that a dress code applies for this event. Smart dress is acceptable, but those wearing jeans and trainers will not be admitted.

4. The autumn 2006 series will take place at UCL in Lecture Theatre 1, the Cruciform Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT. The spring 2007 series will run from February 16th to March 23rd in the same venue.

About The Royal Institution

Since its foundation in 1799, The Royal Institution has been 'diffusing science for the common purposes of life'. A range of activities takes place under one roof, from schools lectures to providing a forum for the general public, through to a heritage programme, an arts-science initiative, a media centre and state-of-the-art chemistry labs. The Ri is a home for everyone interested in science, irrespective of whether they have a scientific background or not. Our vision is that a visit to the Ri should be as stimulating and interesting as a visit to a concert or the cinema, yet even more relevant and controversial. In 2006 the Ri is undergoing major refurbishments, which aim to revolutionise access to our famous building and reinterpret the way that our iconic heritage collection is displayed.

About UCL

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. In the government’s most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 59 UCL departments achieved top ratings of 5* and 5, indicating research quality of international excellence. UCL is the fourth-ranked UK university in the 2005 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Mahatma Gandhi (Laws 1889, Indian political and spiritual leader); Jonathan Dimbleby (Philosophy 1969, writer and television presenter); Junichiro Koizumi(Economics 1969, Prime Minister of Japan); Lord Woolf (Laws 1954 – former Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales); Alexander Graham Bell (Phonetics 1860s – inventor of the telephone); and members of the band Coldplay.