Growing up in the Universe

It is a computer such as no human factory has ever turned out. If we ever do succeed in making a computer with the performance of the human brain, I would guess that the research and development costs would be in the region of thousands of millions of pounds. Yet heads like yours and hands like yours are manufactured daily, millions of times over. A woman can do it with no research and only nine months development and only a little bit of help from a friend. [Richard Dawkins, Growing up in the Universe, Lecture 1: Waking up in the Universe.]

Continuing in the tradition established by Michael Faraday, Richard Dawkins gave a set of Royal Institution Christmas Lectures called Growing up in the Universe in 1991. I had watched snatches of these some months ago on youtube and loved every minute. Now, they are available in their entirety through Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science. I will go over the whole set, eventually. If you have the time and the internet bandwidth to view these, I recommend them highly.

The late great Douglas Adams makes an appearance in lecture 4, titled The Ultraviolet Garden and reads from his glorious The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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