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2008 Robinson Lecture

The 2008 Robinson Lecture will be held on Thursday, 20th November commencing at 8.00 p.m. in the Fisher Suite of the Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Armagh. The Robinson Lecture is held biennially in memory of the founder of the Armagh Observatory, Archbishop Richard Robinson (1708-1794), and this year's lecture, the ninth in the series, celebrates the tercentenary of the birth of Archbishop Robinson. The guest Lecturer and Robinson Medallist will be Peter Brand, Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Edinburgh. Professor Brand will speak on the topic "God and the Universe".

Professor Brand said: "Our scientific understanding of the physical Universe exposes us to great beauty and to mind-stretching ideas. In presenting the current picture I shall try to persuade you that this understanding, based on physical laws and careful observation, is secure. But we must recognize that this security is based on faith: faith that the laws of physics apply everywhere and always. This faith is tested continually and (so far) has always been justified. Its consequence is our modern technological society of planes and cars, bridges and wind turbines, TVs and the Internet.

How does the idea of faith in God fit into this scheme? I explore, from my own perspective, how physical understanding moderates the possibilities. While it is of the essence that God cannot be known in the same sense as physical facts are, one can use science to suggest what God is not. This reduction technique is routine in science (and Sudoku) and is very productive. How far can it be taken in this case? I suggest that there is a position from which both faith systems seem simultaneously reasonable."

Professor Brand has spent research periods at the Joint Astronomy Center in Hawaii and the Anglo-Australian Observatory, and also at the Universities of Sydney and New South Wales, and at Harvard and Princeton Universities. His main research interests have been concerned with the physics of interstellar space, the behaviour of violently excited material ejected from black holes at the centres of galaxies, and the behaviour of gas around newly-born stars involving both theoretical and observational work in Hawaii, Australia, Japan and the Canary Islands.

For free tickets for this event, which will conclude with light refreshments at 9.00 p.m., please contact Ms Alison Neve at the Armagh Observatory, Tel.: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; or e-mail: asnat signarm.ac.uk.

Professor Brand will also deliver the Robinson Schools Lecture (Black Holes and the Universe) in the Royal School Armagh, College Hill, Armagh, at 2.00 pm on Friday, 21st November 2008. Teachers and pupils who would like to attend should contact Mr Warren Fowles, The Royal School, College Hill, Armagh. Tel.: 028-3752-2807; email: sfowles830at signroyalschool.armagh.ni.sch.uk.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfat signarm.ac.uk

See also:
Robinson Lecture Announcement
Robinson Schools Lecture

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Last Revised: 2008 November 10th
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