This post is something of a diversion from my usual subject matter, but I thought it worth a mention. Tonight on BBC4 at 8pm is the screening of the first of three Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, given by Dr Alison Woollard, a geneticist from Oxford http://www.rigb.org/christmas-lectures/2013-life-fantastic/alison-woollard. The lectures have been running since 1825, when they were first started by Michael Faraday, with the aim of bringing science to young people in the form of lectures at Christmas. Alison is in illustrious company: previous lecturers include David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Susan Greenfield and Carl Sagan. I had tickets for the recordings of lectures one and three this year, with my family, and I am delighted to report that Alison fully lived up to her predecessors. Tonight’s lecture starts by looking at single cells, and Alison explains how these tiny pieces of life divide and multiply to make up a human being. It’s great to watch a scientist who is not only totally committed to her work, but who can communicate her enthusiasm, and tailor her message to a non-academic audience in a way that is not patronising, but also not too technical.
The three Christmas lectures were recorded earlier this month at the Royal Institution, and will all be broadcast by BBC4, starting tonight, for the next three nights. If you’re at all interested in science, or in what makes you human, take a look. The lectures may be aimed primarily at young people, but Alison’s skill is that she makes them interesting for adults too. You can find details of all three programmes here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03mv59j
I’ll blog about the third lecture later – it was on genes and cell therapies, and gave me much to think about when it comes to addiction.