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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 1 - January 2006

We are pleased to report that the new Faraday Institute for Science and Religion is now launched as of 3rd January 2006 and we will be sending out brief monthly letters to give the latest information on its activities. This letter is longer than later letters will be, since it represents an introduction to the activities of the Institute. If you do not wish to receive these letters please press return and put 'Do not send' in the subject line.

The main resource for communication is the new web-site at <http://www.faraday-institute.org/> . The web-site can also be accessed by clicking on the Institutes folder on the St. Edmund's College web-site at:  <http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/> . These pages are already receiving a large volume of hits and if you have any problems using any of the facilities on the pages please contact the Webmaster (clickable contact on the web-site). Other facilities in preparation for the web-site include on-line secure payment for Courses and a facility to show video-streams of seminars and lectures.

Some people have asked why we chose the name 'Faraday' for the new Institute. The reasons are given on the web-site - (top-line: 'Who was Faraday?). You might also like to look at the 'About the Faraday Logo' option, designed by Dr Ed Munn whose art draws its inspiration from biological themes.

The Faraday Institute administrative offices are based at St. Edmund's College. The Faraday Staff positions are now nearly all filled. The Director, Dr Denis Alexander, continues to maintain a research group in cancer and immunology at The Babraham Institute, but most of his effort is now directed towards the new Institute.  The Associate Director, Prof. Bob White FRS, continues to hold his Chair in Geophysics in the university and run a busy research programme, working for the institute part-time. The Course Director is the Revd. Dr Rodney Holder, an astrophysicist formerly Priest in Charge of the Parish of the Claydons, Diocese of Oxford, and author of books on science and religion. The Director's full-time Research Associate is Dr Jason Rampelt who is working on a research project (based in the History Dept) investigating the relationship between religious belief and creativity in the lives of scientists in the history of science. Polly Stanton is working as our half-time Administrator and Bekki Pearce is our Marketing and Events Manager.

We are pleased to welcome an excellent group of academics who have agreed to serve on the Faraday Advisory Board with Sir Brian Heap FRS as Chairperson. In addition we now have a significant ensemble of Faraday Associates, an informal network of academics who will be helping to keep the Institute well linked to a broad array of disciplines.

An important aspect of the Institute's activities is the organisation of Seminars and Lectures. Our first Faraday Research Seminar took place on 31st Jan when the Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS gave an excellent talk on the subject 'How Does God Interact With the World?' The next Research Seminar will be on 14th Feb when Prof. Philip Clayton, currently on sabbatical at the Divinity Faculty in Cambridge, will be speaking on 'Concepts of Emergence in Science and Religion'. This will be followed by Prof. Colin Russell on 28th Feb whose topic is: 'Science and Faith in the Life of Michael Faraday'. We realise that most people receiving this letter are not in Cambridge, so are unable to attend these events, which is why we will be making videos of all our events and posting them on the web for you to watch later. In this way we hope to create a 'virtual Institute' from which anyone can benefit anywhere in the world. We actually had to turn people away from Dr Polkinghorne's Seminar due to over-crowding, so even people in Cambridge will sometimes need to depend on the MP3 and/or video-stream version, which we hope will be ready to post on the Faraday Seminars page next week, at least in its MP3 format (note that on the Lectures page many earlier lectures are already available there in both text and MP3 formats).

The CiS - Faraday lecture series on science and religion is a continuation of the earlier CiS - St. Edmund's College lecture series posted at <http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/cis/> , re-named due to the fact that the series is now being funded as part of the activities of the Faraday Institute. The Dinner-Discussions held after each lecture will continue to be held at St. Edmund's College as previously. We are very pleased that Prof. Gerald Gabrielse, professor of physics at Harvard University, has agreed to give our first lecture in the new series on 2nd March (Queen's Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College, 5.30 p.m.) under the somewhat enigmatic title 'God of Antimatter'. Prof. Gabrielse is well known for his work on the physics of antimatter. Again, the MP3 recording and video of the lecture will eventually become available on our web-site.

The organisation of short-term courses is another important aspect of the Institute's activities. The first week-end Course entitled 'Introduction to Science and Religion' will be held at Westminster College, 7-9 April, and following a recent advertisement in Nature the course is fast filling up, so if you intend to come please apply as early as possible to secure a place. The Summer Course will be held 16-29 July as two one-week Units, and an overview of the Course topics plus application and bursary information are all posted on the web-site.

Faraday Staff members have already been involved in a wide range of speaking and media engagements, and we expect these to increase as the new Institute becomes better known.

Best wishes,

Denis Alexander

[Director, Faraday Institute]