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Scientist Lord Robert Winston Speaks to Students at London's Imperial College

Wednesday, 17 February, 2010 - 12:30 pm

n2.jpgSome 80 students and staff gathered at Imperial College, London, this week to hear Professor Lord Robert Winston speak about the ideas behind his latest book, Bad Ideas, which traces the fascinating history of our attempts at self-improvement while also questioning their value.

Through regular TV appearances and now as politician in the House of Lords, Lord Winston has become a household name in the Britain as one of country’s best-known scientists.

“Every human achievement has a downside that we don’t expect to see,” he told the audience. With all new technologies and scientific developments, “real advances which will change our lives are probably not fully understood, and perhaps could not be understood.”

“These problems are nothing new,” said Lord Winston. Taking examples from pre-history and examining them against the backdrop of science as well as Jewish history and philosophy, he demonstrated how the growth of such things as agriculture, the city and writing has radically changed the face of human civilisation.

“If we are really to control our technology,” says Lord Winston, “we must improve communication of science and technology. To some extent there has to be a democratisation of science.”

He sees this as a “Jewish theme” that has a Biblical origin. “The first commandment in the Torah is ‘to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth and have dominion over it.’ This means we must be using discretion, wisdom and discernment in what we are doing. Jewish philosophers, like Maimonides, had the strongest views on how we handle our environment.”

winston2.jpg"The talk was thought-provoking and well received," said Rabbi Mendy Loewenthal, director of Chabad of South Kensington, established in 2008 to work with students at Imperial College and other colleges in the surrounding area.

The subject matter was of relevance to scientists and non-scientists alike.

"He brought scientific concepts to a level that make them universally understandable,” commented  Adam Szerenyi, an undergraduate in Finance at Budapest University who is currently visiting the London.


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