NU Ideas at the Lit & Phil | 11

Events List

Thursday 16th May | 6:00 pm

LIVE Lit & Phil Event | FREE

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Image of a sample under a microscope, sourced from Unsplashed

Thursday 16th May | 6:00 pm

The eleventh in this series of talks in collaboration with Northumbria University.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names
Prof Iain Sutcliffe (Applied Sciences)

Effective communication in microbiology depends on our ability to name the microorganisms on which scientists work – which in turn depends mostly on the work of taxonomists. However ,the practice of taxonomy can be the source of much debate and, indeed, controversy: as Bill Bryson put it “Taxonomy is described sometimes as a science and sometimes as an art, but really it’s a battleground”. In contrast to classification, the ways in which bacteria are named is governed compiled in the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes, which is administered by the International Committee on Systematic of Prokaryotes (ICSP), of which I have been Chair for the last six years. More recently, a second Code of Nomenclature, the SeqCode, has been launched – whether this is a rival or a much needed complement to the established Code is a matter of some considerable debate.

 

The challenge of biology in the search for life
Prof David Pearce (Applied Sciences)

We have finally reached the era in which we can seriously contemplate the exploration of extra-terrestrial bodies elsewhere in our solar system. Having the technology to already have sent humans to the moon, and landed a series of spacecraft on increasingly challenging missions including Mars and even on a comet Rosetta, attention has turned to eventual human missions to Mars, most likely in the 2030s. Indeed many projects here on Earth are currently focused on that aim. However, the validity of such science and the question of ‘planetary protection’ and the potential for detrimental impact that human missions might have, both on the target planet and also back here on Earth, is still the subject of intense debate. This session will look at the challenges, both technical and philosophical and ask whether our technological capability is too far ahead of our understanding of unintended consequences and moral responsibility in terms of space exploration.

 

A LIVE Lit & Phil Event | FREE

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