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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Professor Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, to give Radio 4's Reith Lectures 2010

This year's BBC Radio 4 Reith lecturer will be the cosmologist and astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees.

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 Reith 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.

Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer said: "It is wonderful that Professor Rees has agreed to be next year's Reith lecturer.

"Throughout 2010 the BBC will be placing special emphasis on its science output – 350 years after the founding of The Royal Society – and the lectures are the centrepiece for Radio 4.

"Professor Rees has a worldwide reputation as a brilliant theoretical scientist and has consistently believed in the need to excite lay audiences about the role of science and scientists.

"I look forward to a thrilling voyage of enquiry."

To mark its 350th anniversary, the Royal Society will be running a nationwide programme of events and activities, many in conjunction with other scientific and cultural institutions, to inspire scientists, families, young people and interested members of the public alike to see further into science.

Professor Rees has written widely about science, including more than 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 in May and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.

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 (co-author John Gribbin), 1989, Bantam
New Perspectives In Astrophysical Cosmology, 1995
Gravity's Fatal Attraction: Black Holes In The Universe, 1995 (a new edition is published in January 2010)
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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