Science: The Big Questions

Posted by QED at 10:23am on September 21st 2017
Radio Telescope

Why does the Higgs field have the magnitude it does? What does the detection of gravitational waves mean for astronomy and science as a whole? What is Dark Matter, and Dark Energy? Do protons decay?

Are these really big questions of science? They look quite small as questions go. Maybe it's just the answers that are big? This is just speculation, because no-one seems to know the answers. Perhaps these aren't even important questions though - do they really matter to people? Should we be more concerned about big engineering and medical questions like halting or reversing climate change, finding replacements for antibiotics and treating dementia?

The one thing this panel will definitely have in common with our TV-show namesake is that you can be sure that no actual answers will be likely to emerge. But with Rick Owen chairing a panel of top physicists, we can at least promise an interesting discussion about the questions.

  • Helen Czerski is a physicist and oceanographer. She regularly gives talks around the country as well as working on several projects for television and radio, including several documentaries for the BBC, such as Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey, and The Transit of Venus, as well as Dara Ó Briain’s Science Club.
  • Tim O’Brien is a professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester and Associate Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. He is the Science Director for the bluedot festival, held annually at Jodrell Bank, and President of the Society for Popular Astronomy. He appears regularly on BBC Two’s Stargazing Live
  • Jeff Forshaw is professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. He is the co-author of five books, most notably the worldwide bestseller Why Does E=mc²?, The Quantum Universe. He frequently acts as science consultant to the BBC and other media and is a columnist for the The Observer.

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