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Keynote - Martin Rees

Martin Rees, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, gave a speech entitled "Space exploration, life and the cosmos".

The space age is little more than 50 years old but space technology already pervades our lives. It has also been crucial for science. Unmanned probes have visited the planets of our Solar System. But will human explorers follow? Or will space be only an arena for robots and fabricators? By probing far beyond our Solar System, telescopes, have revealed a vast universe, containing billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, whose history can be traced back to some mysterious ‘beginning’ nearly 14 billion years ago. We now understand in outline the emergence of atoms, galaxies, stars and planets -- and how, on at least one planet, life emerged and developed a complex biosphere of which we are part. We wonder, indeed, whether our ‘big bang’ was the only one. And we have learnt that many other stars are orbited by retinues of planets -- some resembling our Earth. Will we find life on them? What is our future on Earth? This illustrated lecture will attempt to address such issues.

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