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When Darwin set out to explain the origin of species, he made no attempt to answer the deeper question: what is life? For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. And yet, huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry, or do we need something fundamentally new? From life’s murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies, Davies offers a breath-taking journey across the landscape of physics, biology, logic and computing. Weaving together cancer and consciousness, two-headed worms and bird navigation, Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos, opening a window on the secret of life itself. Chaired by Marcus du Sautoy.
Starting from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ classic ‘pastoral romance for orchestra’, King explores how Britain's history and identity have been shaped by the mysterious relationship between music and nature. The landscape we celebrate as unsullied and ripe with mystique is a living, working, and occasionally rancorous environment – not an unaffected idyll – that forged a nation's musical personality, and its dissenting traditions. He listens to the music from the far west of Wales to the Thames Estuary and the Suffolk shoreline, taking in Brian Eno, Kate Bush, Boards of Canada, Dylan Thomas, Gavin Bryars, Greenham Common and the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass to chart a new and surprising course through a familiar landscape.
Aphorisms have been described as ‘the obscure hinterland between poetry and prose’ (New Yorker) – short, pithy statements that capture the essence of the human condition in all its shades.
“Consciousness is the turn the universe makes to hasten its own end.”
“Agnosticism is indulged only by those who have never suffered belief.”
“Poet: someone in the aphorism business for the money.”
In this New and Selected, master of the form Don Paterson brings the best examples from his two previous volumes together with ingenious new material relevant to today’s world. Moving and mischievous, canny and profound, these wide-ranging observations of no more than one or two lines demonstrate that the aphorism is the perfect form for our times.
We’re constantly bombarded by advice on what pregnant women should do – but what does science really tell us about how early development impacts on future health? Aiken explores how life in the womb affects not only our children’s lifelong health and wellbeing, but maybe even our grandchildren’s too. Aiken is Honorary Consultant in Maternal and Fetal Medicine at Cambridge University. Her work involves caring for women during high-risk pregnancies and researching how to improve the long-term outcomes for their babies.
In the beginning all the water and all the earth were mixed up – nothing could survive. So the Gods gathered in the six skies above and the six worlds below to create something magical out of the mess… This intimate, immersive show for all ages stitches together stories from around the world with micro puppets and musical boxes.
Breathe the world in deep and you can do anything… Michael Morpurgo and Marcus Brigstocke read Michael’s latest book Muck and Magic, a moving countryside story about the power of friendship and creativity and why a true gift should never be wasted. A chance to be read to by one of the greatest storytellers in the UK, alongside the multi-talented comedian, actor and satirist.
The Booker winner, author of The God of Small Things and The Ministry of `utmost Happiness discusses her work and launches her new non-fiction book My Seditious Heart, which collects the work of a two-decade period when Roy devoted herself to the political essay as a way of opening up space for justice, rights and freedoms in an increasingly hostile environment.
The German-born illustrator, creator with Julia Donaldson of The Gruffalo, has brought together forty-five artists from across Europe to share their powerful illustrations of the European Union’s shared past and our unsure future. Scheffler’s acceptance speech at the British Book Awards last year was one of the most passionate and articulate hymns to Europe of recent years. He introduces the artworks, and talks about the project with Katya Adler.
Drawing Europe Together will be on show onsite at Hay Festival and you can buy limited edition prints from a selection of the 45 illustrators in the Hay Festival Shop.
Blackburn has always collected things that hold stories about the past, especially the very distant past: mammoth bones, two-million-year-old shells, a flint shaped as a weapon long ago. Time Song brings many such stories together as it tells of the creation, the existence and the loss of a country now called Doggerland, a huge and fertile area that once connected the entire east coast of England with mainland Europe, until it was finally submerged by rising sea levels around 5,000 BC.
What will education look like 50 years from now? Join us for a conversation with leading thinkers on education and learning technology where we will explore how both education policy and the way we learn might change over the coming decades. The 50-year possibilities for new technologies are radical to say the least. Technologies such as AI, blockchain and data analytics could have positive or negative impacts for education, and sorting the hype from the reality is a challenge for all those in education. Similarly, in a world where we will increasingly need to continue to learn new skills throughout our lives how should the education system support life-long learning?
Join us to discuss the future of what and how we learn in this special event to mark the 50th anniversary of The Open University.
The author of The Star of the Sea discusses his new novel. 1878: the Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. O’Connor explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.
The charismatic, award-winning chefs behind the Honey & Co empire introduce and demo their scrumptious new cookbook. From breads to bakes, salads to sweets, there is something for everyone in this celebration of Middle Eastern cooking. They offer authentic recipes like Jerusalem sesame bread filled with harissa and lemon chicken, a crisp salad with saffron-poached pears and walnut tahini, a fish pastilla and a rabbit stifado. The mouth-watering recipes featured in this book are quick and simple to make. Whip them up for lunch or a weekend meal without forward planning, special ingredients or fancy equipment – these will quickly become staple recipes that you, your friends and family will revisit again and again.
Today we see the Quran being used by some to justify war and terrorism, the Torah to deny Palestinians the right to live in the Land of Israel, and the Bible to condemn homosexuality and contraception. The holy texts at the centre of all religious traditions are often employed selectively to underwrite arbitrary and subjective views. They are believed to be divinely ordained; they are claimed to contain eternal truths. But as Karen Armstrong, a world authority on religious affairs, shows in this fascinating journey through millennia of history, this narrow reading of scripture is a relatively recent phenomenon. For hundreds of years these texts were instead viewed as spiritual tools: scripture was a means for the individual to connect with the divine, to transcend their physical existence, and to experience a higher level of consciousness. Holy texts were seen as fluid and adaptable, rather than a set of binding archaic rules or a ‘truth’ that has to be ‘believed’.
Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman. The award-winning campaigner and writer shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.
From clay tablets to the printing press; from the pencil to the internet; from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter, this is the true story of literature – of how great texts and technologies have shaped cultures and civilisations and altered human history. Less well known is the influence of Greek generals, Japanese court ladies, Spanish adventurers, Malian singers and American astronauts, and yet all of them played a crucial role in shaping and spreading literature as we know it today. The Harvard professor tells the captivating story of the development of literature. Central to the development of religions, political movements and even nations, texts spread useful truths and frightening disinformation, and have the power to change lives. Chaired by Daniel Hahn.
A pioneer in the field of behavioural genetics, Plomin draws on a lifetime’s worth of research to make the case that DNA is the most important factor in shaping who we are. Our families, schools and the environment around us are important, but they are not as influential as our genes. This is why, he argues, teachers and parents should accept children for who they are, rather than trying to mould them in certain directions. Even the environments we choose and the signal events that impact our lives, from divorce to addiction, are influenced by our genetic predispositions. Now, thanks to the DNA revolution, it is becoming possible to predict who we will become, at birth, from our DNA alone. #Discuss
The author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever previews a deliciously funny, poignant and wry new novel, full of surprising twists and turns, to be published this summer. James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps?
A conversation with two leading QCs and authors about the often sensational legal cases that have shaped contemporary society. Thomas Grant is author of Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials That Defined Modern Britain and Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories. Geoffrey Robertson led students in the sixties to demand an end to racism and censorship. He went on to become a top human rights advocate, saving the lives of many death-row inmates, freeing dissidents and taking on tyrants in a career marked by courage, determination and a fierce independence. He is founder of the redoubtable Doughty Street Chambers and author of the memoir Rather His Own Man: In Court with Tyrants, Tarts and Troublemakers.