At 12.25pm on Monday 13th July 2015, 300 PA students and staff sat in the Assembly Hall eagerly anticipating what would become a true highlight of the school year. Entering stage left was a university professor of world-renown, a member of the House of Lords, a politician, a BAFTA award winning television presenter and one of the world’s most famous moustaches. Lord Robert Winston is the Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College, London. Imperial College is one of the finest places to study science in the world and Lord Winston is one of its most celebrated figures.
An Orthodox Jew, Lord Winston took us on a journey that spanned over 100 million years to illustrate how Science and God complement each other’s work. Lord Winston explained how both scientific and religious explorations originate from the desire for human beings to find answers to the uncertainties our species faces. As vulnerable weak creatures we are searching for certainty. Lord Winston supported his arguments with the ideas of many great religious leaders. He showed how many of them have encouraged us to search for ever more sophisticated answers to our questions whilst at the same time warning of the dangers of scientific and religious beliefs that are overly certain of their rightfulness.
Lord Winston brought together historical evidence, scientific experiments, a diverse set of religious texts and the music of the French classical composer Debussy. It was an incredible display of learning that served to highlight the great heights that a life time of learning can achieve. The talk was full of serious thinking but Lord Winston was keen to emphasise how science is fun and that scientists bring humour to their work. He showed us the video of a ground-breaking experiment whereby, as a result of the injection of a small number of cells, a mouse was been able to run for over four hours and at double the speed of an ordinary mouse. The latter had, needless to say, given up on the marathon competition after just a couple of minutes!
After his talk, Lord Winston took students’ questions. At this point Yvon-Sebastien Landais in Year 8 shone. His discussion on mitochondria with Lord Winston greatly impressed the scientist.