Martin Rees, fully Sir Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow

Martin
Rees, fully Sir Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow
1942

British Cosmologist, Astrophysicist and Author, Fellow of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge

Author Quotes

From a personal perspective, I am disappointed that we have yet to really achieve a full understanding of the origins of life on Earth. What was the spark that, billions of years ago, kick-started the process of evolution that has brought us life as we know it today? I hope that we will get some answers to that in my lifetime.

Certainly I think many of the problems confronting the world now require a better application of existing knowledge rather than new knowledge. New knowledge can sometimes help to alleviate the problems raised by science in the past, but obviously the most glaring injustices in the world?for example, the mal-distribution of globalization?s benefits and of health care?don?t require new science. They just require a change in national attitudes so as to allow better use of existing knowledge, a different set of priorities, and so on. Many of the problems require, as you say, a change in attitude and not more knowledge.

Charles Darwin [is my personal favorite Fellow of the Royal Society]. I suppose as a physical scientist I ought to have chosen Newton. He would have won hands down in an IQ test, but if you ask who was the most attractive personality then Darwin is the one you'd wish to meet. Newton was solitary and reclusive, even vain and vindictive in his later years when he was president of the society.

Collective human actions are transforming, even ravaging, the biosphere - perhaps irreversibly - through global warming and loss of biodiversity.

Computer power grows according to Moore's law, as does the sophistication of handheld devices.

Crucial to science education is hands-on involvement: showing, not just telling; real experiments and field trips and not just 'virtual reality.'

A single individual empowered by new technology can have a far bigger effect because not only is there greater empowerment, but society is more interconnected and more vulnerable. And the media can amplify any local catastrophe so it affects the mindset of a whole nation or even the whole world.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Advances in technology - hugely beneficial though they are - render us vulnerable in new ways. For instance, our interconnected world depends on elaborate networks: electric power grids, air traffic control, international finance, just-in-time delivery, and so forth.

All space projects push the frontiers of technology and are drivers of innovation.

And we should keep our minds open, or at least ajar, to concepts on the fringe of science fiction. Flaky American futurologists aren't always wrong. They remind us that a super-intelligent machine is the last instrument that humans may ever design - the machine will itself take over in making further steps.

As regards my own 'philosophy,' I continue to be inspired by the music, liturgy and architectural tradition of the Anglican Church in which I was brought up. No one can fail to be uplifted by great cathedrals - such as that at Ely, near my home in Cambridge.

Campaigning against religion can be socially counter-productive. If teachers take the uncompromising line that God and Darwinism are irreconcilable, many young people raised in a faith-based culture will stick with their religion and be lost to science.

A monkey is unaware that atoms exist. Likewise, our brainpower may not stretch to the deepest aspects of reality. The bedrock nature of space and time, and the structure of our entire universe, may remain 'open frontiers' beyond human grasp.

Author Picture
First Name
Martin
Last Name
Rees, fully Sir Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow
Birth Date
1942
Bio

British Cosmologist, Astrophysicist and Author, Fellow of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge