Astronomers have made astonishing progress in probing our cosmic environment thanks to advanced technology. We can trace cosmic history back to some mysterious "beginning" nearly 14 billion years ago. And we understand in outline the emergence of atoms, galaxies, stars, and planets and how, on at least one planet, life developed a complex biosphere of which we are part. But these advances pose new questions: What does the long-range future hold? How widespread is life in our cosmos? Should we be surprised that the physical laws permitted the emergence of complexity? Is physical reality even more extensive than the domain that our telescopes can probe? This lectures addresses (but does not answer!) such questions.
Martin Rees is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal. He was once Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge and has lectured widely in the U.S., Europe, and the Far East. His research interests include cosmology, galaxy formation, black holes, and "high energy" phenomena in the universe. In addition to his research publications, he is the author of eight books and numerous articles on scientific and general subjects. He is a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy, and several other foreign academies. He is a member of the UK's House of Lords and recently completed a five-year term as President of the Royal Society (the UK's national science academy).
This event was cosponsored by the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was made possible by a generous gift from the Brinson Foundation to the University of Chicago.
Recorded Monday, April 11, 2011 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.