12 May 2010

Professor Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, to give BBC Radio 4 Reith Lecture at the OU

Lord Rees

Lord Rees

This year’s BBC Radio 4 Reith lecturer is the cosmologist and astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees. The lecture on 18 May will be hosted by The Open University.

Professor Rees has been President of the Royal Society since 2005 and is a member of the House of Lords. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, and is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

His lectures will explore the role of science as a common culture and the scope and limits of our scientific understanding. Professor Rees will also discuss how science might further transform our lives in the rest of the 21st century - posing new opportunities, threats and ethical challenges. And he will consider scenarios, some optimistic, some less so, for a world in which pressures on resources and the environment will become ever more acute.

Professor Rees has written widely about science, including over 500 research papers and numerous published articles, as well as eight books on the subjects of cosmology and astronomy, intended for the lay reader. Topics he has written about include the origin of cosmic microwave background radiation, galaxy clustering and formation and the distribution of quasars. He was also one of the first to propose that enormous black holes power quasars. He broadcasts and lectures widely and has held visiting professorships at many universities around the world.

The Reith Lectures 2010 will be recorded this month [May] and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.


For further information contact BBC Radio 4 Publicity at or 020 7765 5337

Notes To Editors:

John Reith, the BBC’s first Director-General, maintained that broadcasting should be a public service which enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. It is in this spirit that the BBC each year invites a leading figure to deliver a series of lectures on radio. The aim is to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.

The Reith Lectures began in 1948. The very first Reith lecturer was the philosopher, Bertrand Russell who spoke on “Authority and the Individual”.

Professor Rees is the author of:

Cosmic Coincidences: Dark Matter, Mankind, and Anthropic Cosmology (coauthor John Gribbin), 1989, Bantam

New Perspectives in Astrophysical Cosmology, 1995

Gravity's Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe, 1995

Before the Beginning - Our Universe and Others, 1997

Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe, 2000

Our Cosmic Habitat, 2001

Our Final Century: Will the Human Race Survive the Twenty-first Century? 2003

Professor Rees has won many international awards for his researches, and is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Indian Academy of Sciences and TWAS. He is currently on the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Gates Cambridge Trust and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study and has served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control and international collaboration in science.

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