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November 2012 – School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2012 in association with the School of Cosmic Physics


Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S. recently visited DIAS and gave the 2012 Statutory Public Lecture of the School of Theoretical Physics. The lecture  entitled  “Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse” was held in UCD on Monday 19th November. (Poster)




Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse

Astronomers have made astonishing progress in probing our cosmic environment. We can trace cosmic history from some mysterious ‘beginning’ nearly 14 billion years ago, and understand in outline the emergence of atoms, galaxies, stars and planets — and how, on at least one planet, life emerged and developed a complex biosphere of which we are part.

Unmanned spacecraft have visited the other planets of our Solar System (and some of their moons), beaming back pictures of varied and distinctive worlds. And, probing far beyond our Solar System, telescopes, have revealed a vast universe, containing billions of galaxies, each containing billions  of stars.

An exciting development in the last decade has been the realisation that many other stars are orbited by retinues of planets — some resembling our Earth.

But these advances pose new questions: What does the long-range future hold? How widespread is life in our cosmos? Should we be surprised that the physical laws permitted the emergence of complexity? and:  Is physical reality even more extensive than the domain that our telescopes can probe? This illustrated lecture will attempt to address such issues.


Until his retirement earlier this year, Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S.,   was the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Professor Rees was appointed to the House of Lords as a non-party-political peer, sitting on the Cross Benches in 2005, in which year he also became President of the Royal Society, a post he held until 2010. He is also Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics in the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge. Among many other academic distinctions he holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal.

Lord Rees’ awards include the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Balzan International Prize, the Bruce Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Heineman Prize for Astrophysics (AAS/AIP), the Bower Award for Science of the Franklin Institute, the Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation and the Einstein Award of the World Cultural Council.

Among Professor Rees’s publications are the following books: Cosmic Coincidences (UK title: The Stuff of the Universe) with J. Gribbin (1989); New Perspectives in Astrophysical Cosmology (2000); Before the Beginning—Our Universe and Others (1997); Gravity’s Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe (1995); Just Six Numbers (1999); Our Cosmic Habitat (2001);Our Final Century (US title: Our Final Hour) (2003); La Lucciola e il Rifletorre (in Italian only) (2004); Universe, editor (2005); What We Still Don’t Know (2007).