Big science questions

June 15, 2001

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 Times Higher 's Big Science Questions series. They include Colin Pillinger, John Leslie, Brian Heap, John Sulston and Mary Warnock. Each piece is accompanied by a background article giving an overview of scientific thinking on the subject.

The Big Questions in Science  was published on 20 October 2002 by Jonathan Cape, £15.99. Read the review  in The Times Higher Bookshop.

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20 September 2002
Is there life elsewhere in the universe?

Geoff Watts: Would aliens send us their soap operas?  

Colin Pillinger: It's worth another visit to our next-door neighbour to look for signs of life  

<STRONG style="FONT-SIZE: 12px"> 6 September 2002
Can we end hunger?

Julia Hinde:If food is in the larder, then why not on the table?  

Brian Heap:The trick is to produce more to eat from far less land and then to make sure it is distributed equitably  

<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px"> 9 August 2002
Will we ever be free of pain?

Geoff Watts:When torment is my agony, your itch and his salvation    

Ronald Melzack: Phantom traumas that cause real misery   


<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px"> 26 July 2002
Can we end disease?

John Sulston: Clinical cures aren't enough  


<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px"> 31 May 2002
Are we still evolving?

Mark Buchanan: Has mother nature been outwitted?  

Michael Ruse: 'Human evolution has moved on from the biological to the cultural arena'  


<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px"> 12 April 2002
What makes people violent?

Chris Bunting: Rage and the human race  

Dolf Zillmann: Our unique motives for violence sit beside archaic animal drives for aggression  


<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px"> 29 March 2002
"A better grasp of the nature-nurture relationship may offer insights into crime, cancer and more."

Michael Rutter: A Combination still to crack  

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8 February 2002
Assessing the science behind St Valentine.

Tim Birkhead: What makes us fall in love?  

Is love just a trick that dissuades us from leaving when logic tells us we really should?  

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14 December 2001
Life behind closed eyes: the role dreams play in our conscious and unconscious lives

Stephen LaBerge: What are dreams?  


<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px">
2 November 2001
Investigating the crucial role of genetics.

Robert Plomin: What is intelligence?  

Clever brains stump the inquiring minds  

<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px">
14 September 2001
What you see may not be what you get. How the 'self' may just be part of the 'other'

Susan Blackmore: What is consciousness?  

Mind, matter and the search for 'self'  


<B style="FONT-SIZE: 12px"> 24 August 2001
"If time travel is possible why don't we see evidence of it?"

John Barrow: What is time?  

Is time merely the measure by which we fall apart?  

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July 2001
"I would bet reasonable odds that within ten years we will know what the dominant dark matter is."

Martin Rees: How did the universe start?  

A theory unified by telescope and lab  

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15 June 2001
"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."

John Polkinghorne: Does God exist?  

Big Man versus big bang theory  

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