Big science questions

June 11, 2001

New series in The THES asks the big questions

What is life about? How did the universe start? What is time? These are some of the questions that have plagued humanity since time began.

Beginning on 15 June 2001, eighteen of the world’s leading thinkers will present their personal answers to our most fundamental questions as part of The THES 's Big Science Questions series. They include Colin Pillinger, John Leslie, Brian Heap, John Sulston and Mary Warnock. Each piece will be accompanied by a background article giving an overview of scientific thinking on the subject.

To read this series online (after the first week) you need to be a subscriber . Find out about subscribing .

John Polkinghorne: Does God exist?
15 June 2001

  • “New forms of life will come about through genetic mutations, but exactly the same biochemical processes also mean that other mutant cells become malignant. One cannot have the one without the other. There is cancer in the world, not because the Creator is indifferent or incompetent, but because it is the unavoidable cost of a creation allowed to make itself.”

Martin Rees: How did the universe start?
July 2001

  • “The last decade has been exceptional and the crescendo of discovery seems set to continue throughout the present decade…I would bet reasonable odds that within ten years we will know what the dominant dark matter is, and other key numbers like the age of the universe. If that happens, it will signal a great triumph for cosmology: we will have taken the measure of our universe, just as, over the last few centuries, we've learnt the size and shape of our  Earth and Sun.” 

John Barrow: What is time?
17 August 2001

  • “If time travel is possible why don't we see evidence of it? Perhaps its consequences are always fatal, or maybe it requires a level of technical sophistication that no civilisation ever achieves because they all self-destruct, suffer cataclysmic impacts from space, or run out of the resources they need for technology. Or perhaps it is just too expensive. But if its cost is minimal then the most intriguing argument against its present occurrence is the existence of non-zero interest rates in the money markets.”

Susan Blackmore: What is consciousness?
7 September 2001

Robert Plomin: What is intelligence?
28 September 2001

Michael Rutter: Are we determined by nature or the environment?
19 October 2001




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