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Life is simple

Join Johnjoe McFadden as he tells the story of William of Occam

William of Occam
Moscarlop via wikimedia commons

Event description

How did a thirteenth century friar’s search for simplicity lead to the emergence of the modern world? Join biologist and writer Johnjoe McFadden as he tells the story of the heretical friar William of Occam, who first articulated the principle that the best answer to any problem is the simplest. This theory, known as Occam’s razor, cut through the thickets of medieval metaphysics to clear a path for modern science. By highlighting the very human passion, curiosity, mistakes and struggles of those who were inspired by Occam’s razor to create the modern world, Johnjoe will give new insight into what science is really about and propose that simplicity lies at its core. More speculatively, he will describe how Occam’s razor may even help to account for how our universe came to be the way it is.

Johnjoe's latest book Life is Simple is available from amazon and all good bookshops.

Event type

This is a livestream event where the speaker and audience come together online. 

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About the speaker

Johnjoe McFadden was born in Donegal, Ireland but brought up in the UK. He obtained his PhD at Imperial College London and went on to work on human genetic diseases and then infectious diseases, at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK. For more than a decade, Professor McFadden has specialised in examining the genetics of microbes such as the agents of tuberculosis and meningitis. He has published more than 100 articles in scientific journals on subjects as wide-ranging as bacterial genetics, tuberculosis, idiopathic diseases and computer modelling of evolution and has edited a book on the genetics of mycobacteria. He has lectured extensively in the UK, Europe, the USA and Japan and his work has been featured in radio, television and national newspaper articles. His present post is Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey. He lives in London and is married with a young son.

Timing

The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you register but miss the live stream, the video will be available to you via the same link for up to a week after the event date.

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and book links on this page are affiliate links, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All proceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.