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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 44 - September 2009

We need to start this newsletter by congratulating two people in particular. The first is one of our staff members, Hilary Marlow, who is leaving us at the end of this month to take up a lectureship in the Faculty of Divinity here in Cambridge. Dr Marlow’s research interests centre on Old Testament theology in relation to environmental concerns, and this will remain the focus of her research in this new position. We will be sorry to see Hilary leave us, but are delighted that she has been appointed to this position.

The second person to be congratulated is one of our Advisory Board members, Prof. Eric Priest FRS from St. Andrew’s University, who has been awarded the 2009 Payne-Gaposhkin Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics, for his major contributions to unsolved problems in solar physics, including magnetic reconnection, coronal heating, phasing-mixing of magnetohydrodynamic waves and solar flares.

On the subject of our Advisory Board, we are most grateful to Prof. Colin Russell, who has recently stepped down from the Board, for his three years of wise counsel ever since the Institute started in January 2006. We also welcome a new Board member, the Nobel Prize winner Prof. Sir Martin Evans FRS, Professor of Mammalian Genetics at the University of Cardiff, and the first scientist to identify embryonic stem cells.

It is just a month before the new Cambridge term begins, with the usual busy schedule of Faraday activities scheduled for this new academic year. Our first activity for the new term will be a Faraday Research Seminar to be given by Dr Gennaro Auletta from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on ‘Information, Biological Complexity and Emergence’ on Tuesday 6th October at 1.00 p.m. in the Garden Seminar Room at St. Edmund’s College. As usual the seminar will be preceded by a free buffet lunch at 12.30 p.m. in the same venue. The full seminar programme for the term is already posted on our web-site (www.faraday-institute.org).

An advance date for your diary if you are a member of Cambridge University is Thursday 22nd October at 5.30 p.m. in the Lady Mitchell Hall when a new Faraday Institute sponsored dramatisation entitled ‘Let Newton Be!’ on the life and verbatim writings of Isaac Newton will receive its launch as part of the University’s 800th Birthday celebrations:
[http://www.800.cam.ac.uk/page/29/isaac-newton-dramatisation.htm].

Entrance is open to members of Cambridge University only, is free and no tickets are required. Written by Craig Baxter and performed by the Menagerie Theatre Company, the dramatisation follows on from the same team’s highly successful production entitled ‘Re:Design’ of the verbatim correspondence between Charles Darwin and Asa Gray. This performance of ‘Let Newton Be!’ will be followed by a short period of discussion, question and answers, with Prof. Robert Iliffe from the University of Sussex, Director of the excellent AHRC Newton Project web-site which has enabled publication on-line of many of Newton’s writings (see: www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk). We are grateful to the University of Cambridge 800th Birthday Fund and to The Templeton Foundation for their financial support for the writing and production of ‘Let Newton Be!’

We thought that a fresh focus on Isaac Newton, in whose life and work science and faith were so inextricably entwined, would provide a useful balance to the heavy dose of all things Darwinian that have so far been a feature of this double Anniversary year. But Darwin is not forgotten. See the current Issues Folder on our web-site (www.faraday-institute.org) for an essay from the Director under the title ‘What Has Theology Ever Done for Science?’, a question posed by Prof. Daniel Dennett  at the Darwin Festival that took place in Cambridge in July.

If you missed the interview with Francis Collins, now the new Director of the National Institutes of Health, USA, this is also in the Issues Folder, albeit in the archive section. Watch the Issues Folder also for a review on the new film Creation about Darwin’s life during the period leading up to the publication of On the Origin of Species - the review will be posted nearer the time of the film’s release later this month.

The Test of Faith materials for churches are now being used around the world, including documentary showings at a public lecture series in Brazil and in a cinema in the Faroe Islands. You can buy the materials at a discount from the Faraday online shop: Shop.php. A series of clips from the documentary, totalling almost a third of the documentary footage, have now been added to the Test of Faith homepage: http://www.testoffaith.com/ and YouTube site: http://www.youtube.com/thetestoffaith. There are some spaces left for UK based Sunday Schools to take part in our trials of materials for the 8-11s age-group this Autumn. Please contact Dr Ruth Bancewicz at rmb67@cam.ac.uk for details.

‘Creation in Crisis: Christian Perspectives on Sustainability’, edited by the Associate Director, is now out and selling briskly. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, writes that it is “a first-class collection of essays, ranging from broad and profound theological reflection to the fine detail of scientific and statistical evidence.  A vital resource … it deserves a wide readership”. Copies are available now from the Faraday web site at only £6.99 (RRP £12.99).

Last but not least, our web-site is currently getting a face-lift and the new site should be launched this coming month with the same web-address (www.faraday-institute.org). The original site has served us well over the past 3.5 years, but the new design will hopefully be a little more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate.


Denis Alexander Bob White

[Director]  [Associate Director]