UCL News


Royal Institution Friday Evening Discourses 2006 to be held at UCL

3 February 2006

Is the fuss about GM food justified? What is the experts' view of the fight against motor neurone disease? And what is the process whereby science in the laboratory is argued about by millions worldwide? These are all topics on the agenda at this year's Royal Institution Friday Evening Discourses, being hosted by UCL (University College London).

For the first time in 180 years, the historic Friday Evening Discourses will be open to non-members of the Ri. The series of 12 lectures, six in the Spring and six in the Autumn, will mark both the 180th anniversary of the founding of the series by Michael Faraday in 1826, as well as the 180th anniversary of the founding of UCL.

Many illustrious speakers have shared their experience at the forefront of cutting edge research at Friday Evening Discourses at the Ri, 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 Friday Evening 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 Ri with the opportunity to enter into an exciting partnership with UCL, enabling this renowned series of lectures to continue uninterrupted.

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

  • 17th February - GM: What's all the fuss about?, Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of UCL;
  • 24th February - Can technology save the planet?, Dr Bernard Bulkin, Vice Chair for Climate Change, Energy and Transport of the UK Sustainable Development Commission;
  • 3rd March - Motor neurone disease: how can we lengthen a very short straw?, Prof Chris Shaw, Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics at King's College London;
  • 10th March - Getting to the heart of matter - the story of quarks, Professor Christine Davies, head of the particle physics theory group, Glasgow University;
  • 17th March - Oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease: the enemy within, Professor Salvador Moncada, Director of the UCL Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research;
  • 24th March - 'Frankenstein researchers create bunny monster' - an insider explains pop science, Dr Alun Andersen, Senior Consultant at New Scientist.

UCL Provost Malcolm Grant said: "We are delighted to host the Ri discourses for 2006. Our two organisations have been closely affiliated for 180 years. UCL continues to run a chemistry laboratory at the Ri. So there is a powerful scientific partnership underlying this years discourse series, plus a common interest in promoting world-class science, especially in London."

Susan Greenfield, Director of the Royal Institution, said: "This joint venture with UCL gives us a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our collaborative research links, as well as enabling us to widen our access, not just to all members of UCL but to the greater public. I hope that by keeping this tradition alive we will give everyone a taste of the future of the Ri'.

Notes for Editors

1. For further information about the Friday Evening Discourses, or to obtain press tickets to any of the Discourses, please contact Naomi Temple at the Royal Institution on 020 7670 2944 or ntemple@ri.ac.uk.

2. The Friday Evening Discourses begin promptly at 8.00pm and finish at 9.00pm, followed by a reception. Tickets are free for Ri Members, and cost £12 for non-members. To book tickets, visit the Ri website (www.rigb.org) or call the Events Team at the Ri on 020 7409 2992.

3. The 2006 series will take place at UCL, in the Cruciform Lecture theatre 1, The Cruciform Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.

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.

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.