Life has thrived on the Earth’s surface for nearly four billion years. This is despite a steadily brightening Sun, volcanic outbursts and occasional asteroid impacts.
How this is possible, and the chances for the future survival of humankind, will be discussed by Dr Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia during his BA Charles Lyell Award Lecture at the BA Festival of Science on Tuesday 5 September.
The Festival is taking place in Norwich from 2-9 September and will bring together over 300 of the UK’s top scientists and engineers to discuss the latest scientific developments with the public.
In his lecture ‘How stable is planet Earth?’, Dr Lenton will speak about the Gaia theory, named after the Greek Earth goddess and first proposed by British scientist James Lovelock. “Earth history is characterised by long intervals of relative stability interspersed by short periods of rapid change,” explains Dr Lenton. “Major transitions include the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere over 2 billion years ago and extreme glaciations around 700 million years ago.”
“Life is actively involved in the self-regulation keeping the Earth in a habitable state, including the climate, and the composition of the atmosphere, oceans and land surface”. However, as Dr Lenton will disclose, life is not always a stabilising influence – major transitions in the state of the planet have in the past been driven by various species. Says Dr Lenton: “We appear to be an errant species that is disrupting the global environment and potentially threatening our own existence.”
Dr Lenton’s research has made recent discoveries regarding the nature and causes of some of the major transitions in Earth history, including the rise of oxygen and major climate changes. “Through our work we have been able to make long-term projections about the impact of human activities and are able to see current concerns about climate change from a new perspective” he reports. “Climate change is not new, and life should persist on Earth for another billion years. Whether human civilisation will survive, is another matter.”
The opportunity to present a popular and prestigious BA award lecture at the Festival of Science is offered to five outstanding communicators each year. The award lectures aim to promote open and informed discussion on issues involving science and actively encourage young scientists to explore the social aspects of their research, providing them with reward and recognition for doing so.
In addition to lectures and debates at the University of East Anglia, the Festival will also feature a host of events throughout Norwich as part of the Science in the City programme.
This year’s Festival is supported by the University of East Anglia, the East of England Development Agency and Microsoft Research. The Press Centre is sponsored by AstraZeneca.
For further information on the BA Festival of Science, visit www.the-ba.net/festivalofscience.
Lisa Hendry | alfa
Sediment from Himalayas may have made 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake more severe
26.05.2017 | Oregon State University
Devils Hole: Ancient Traces of Climate History
24.05.2017 | Universität Innsbruck
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy