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
As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation
29.03.2017 | University of Hawaii at Manoa
Researchers discover dust plays prominent role in nutrients of mountain forest ecoystems
29.03.2017 | University of Wyoming
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences