What to say as an introduction to New Scientist Live, the world’s biggest science festival? 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 vast number of ideas.
With dozens of talks from world-renowned scientists and authors, choosing a list of ten is no easy task. And while there’s actually a Doctor Who TARDIS at the show, all the talks will be available to stream on demand afterwards, so there’s plenty of opportunity to catch up and enjoy. Here, then, are some of the talks I’m looking forward to. And forgive number eleven.
Nichola Raihani: Believing the Incredible: The Science of Paranoia and Conspiracy Thinking
Mind and Body stage, 08 October 2022, 14:35 – 15:25
Evolutionary biologist Professor Nichola Raihani will explore how paranoia evolved and look at its role in mental health conditions and conspiracy theories, as well as shed light on the logic and benefits of paranoia. Paranoia is the most common presenting symptom of psychosis and is often viewed as a cognitive impairment. 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 Record of Climate Change
Next stage, 09 October 2022, 13:25 – 14:15
I once thought rocks were only interesting if they had fossils in them. Professor Chris Jackson helped me see the error of my ways. In this talk, he will look at the geological history of climate change, how these changes have affected life on Earth, and how this can help us better understand our current and future climate. I’m hoping for some great pictures of the volcano too.
Emma Byrne: A Brief History of Your Brain
Mind and Body stage, October 8, 2022, 11:55 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Our brains are incredibly adaptable and rewire in our first two decades of life. It is one of the characteristics behind the success and intelligence of our species. Neuroscientist and author Dr. Emma Byrne looks at the secrets of this adaptation, focusing on what happens in the first two decades of life. It’s great to understand teenagers, although I hope the older brain retains a bit of flexibility…
Agnijo Banerjee: World’s largest number
Next stage, 08 October 2022, 15:45 – 16:35
Agnijo Banerjee is like a mathematical knight – he is on an epic quest for unspeakably large numbers. I for one 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 digits of a googolplex? If you don’t even know what a googolplex is, you can find out here.
Gaia Vince: Nomad Century: The Great Climate Upheaval
Our Planet Stage, 08 October 2022 11:55 – 12:45
In a time of planetary and species emergency, we need solutions, and we need them now. With every degree of temperature rise, a billion people will be displaced as parts of the world become uninhabitable. In this talk, Royal Society Award-winning author Gaia Vince will describe how we can use managed climate migration for our survival while restoring the habitability of the planet.
Simon Baron-Cohen: The Pattern Seekers
Next stage, 08 October 2022, 11:55 – 12:45
World-renowned autism expert Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has a really bold new theory about what has driven human progress over the last 70,000-100,000 years – it’s an idea he developed through his work on autism – and that could really change the way we think. of non-neurotypical people. By linking one of our greatest human strengths—if-then invention—to a condition that is so often misunderstood, this talk will challenge us to think differently about those who think differently.
Jeff Forshaw: Black holes
Universe Stage, 08 October 2022, 15:45 – 16:35
Black holes are endlessly fascinating objects because of the way they force us to answer the biggest questions in physics. We also all want to know what would happen if we fell into one. In this talk, particle physics professor Jeff Forshaw will examine the consequences of trying to track the flow of information into and out of a black hole. We will learn 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 disturbing present of eugenics
Mind and Body stage, 08 October 2022 10:45 – 11:35
You might think that eugenics is something abhorrent that the Nazis wanted to do – bad, but it happened a long time ago. You’d be wrong, as you’ll learn in this important talk by Dr. Adam Rutherford. The idea that we are able to control and program genetic changes to complex traits like intelligence is far-fetched—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 have a good breakfast before watching this talk. Twin doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken reveal that in the UK we get over half our calories from ultra-processed food. Is that a bad thing? Make up your own mind after learning what these foods do to our bodies. This is a real news discussion that you can use.
Nick Lane: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death
Our Planet Stage, 09 October 2022, 10:45 – 11:35
Professor Nick Lane has written some of the most insightful books I’ve read in years. In this talk, he will describe his latest idea, based on a reassessment of the Krebs cycle—the biochemical reactions that power our cells—that 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 get much bigger than explaining life – but then Nick also links it to the emergence of consciousness.
Rowan Hooper: How to Spend a Trillion Dollars
Next stage, 08 Oct 2022 14:35 – 15:25
Yes, I’m vulgar enough to recommend my own discussion in a must-see list. I will 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 the world’s problems, and I show in this discussion that the solutions and the money are out there. It’s also an interactive discussion – I want to hear from you about how you’d spend the money. It’s not every day you pretend to spend a trillion dollars – so let’s do it!