Friday, 3 May 2013

Adam Rutherford at Oxford Skeptics

The speaker at Oxford Skeptics in the Pub this week was one of the best yet.  Adam Rutherford engaged an audience of about 60, speaking on the subject of 'Creation'.   The event was held in a new location, the St Aldate's Tavern.  A good choice, I must say!

When I say that he engaged the audience, he used wit and wisdom to answer questions and challenges in the most interesting round-about ways, and yet still managed to give a satisfactory answer.

There is no point trying to give an account of the talk that he gave.  I will just note a few of the things that I found surprising.
  • The family tree of Charles II of Spain, the last of the Hapsburgs, with all its inter-generational loops.
  • The Murchison meteorite, which contains traces of one of the four letters of the genetic code - one that we find it difficult to synthesise here on Earth.  (And yet the hypothesis of panspermia was rejected as non-scientific.  Apparently it is a nice idea but there is no evidence for it.)
  • That the Miller-Urey experiment was actually more successful than originally thought.  In fact, it produced all 20 essential amino acids - many more than there were able to identify at the time.
  • A definition of life - "Life is the opposite of decay"
  • GM cress which detects land mines by changing colour - and yet is not on the market due to an intellectual property dispute.
These and a few others were the highlights of the evening.  Congratulations to Heather for finding such a good speaker.

A great evening out!  If you get chance to see him you should take it.

Small note: Boo to Martin Robbins for trying to be more than an 'ordinary member' of the audience.  He wasn't a very interesting speaker when he was supposed to be the speaker, and he wasn't much better as a member of the audience.

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