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Life, the universe and everything beyond


Young people are being given an exclusive look at the stars as part of an inspiring series of lectures at Newcastle University. 

The live link-up into space via radio-telescope will form part of this year’s John H Holmes Memorial Lectures entitled Our Place in the Universe.

The lectures are being given by the Astrophysics Group in the School of Mathematics and Statistics and have been designed specifically for 10-14 years olds in the hopes they will reinforce the work going on in the classroom and help to ignite an interest in science and physics.

Ian Moss, Professor of Theoretical Cosmology who trained at Cambridge under the supervision of Stephen Hawking, said: “The aim is to wow them.  It’s not every day you get chance to become a radio astronomer and we hope that by showing them how amazing it is out there in space we can inspire them to go away and learn more.  Some of them may even go on to be an astro-physicist of the future?”

The first lecture focuses on the Sun.  Exploring its many faces using images obtained by astronomers the team will show how material from the Sun strikes the Earth's atmosphere giving rise to beautiful phenomena like aurora.

In the second lecture they will find out about the Earth and other planets. How do satellites stay up? What stops us falling off the earth? Are there other planets out in space? And if there’s life out there - Should we get in touch with them?

The final lecture looks at galaxies and the Milky Way.  Examining exploding stars and menacing black holes, the team will explain how the galaxies are moving apart as a result of the big bang at the beginning of the Universe.

To find out more about the Holmes Lectures and other lectures in this term’s INSIGHTS Public Lectures Programme go to The Holmes Lectures run over three consecutive evenings every year in January.

published on: 22 January 2013