For decades, biology has been dominated by information – the power of genes. Yet there is no difference in the information content between a living cell and one that died a moment ago.
So are we better off going back to the formative years of biology and asking: what processes animate cells and set them apart from lifeless matter?
Nick Lane takes us on a journey which turns the standard view upside down, capturing an extraordinary scientific renaissance that is hiding in plain sight.
At its core is an amazing cycle of reactions that uses energy to transform inorganic molecules into the building blocks of life – and the reverse.
To understand this cycle is to fathom the deep coherence of the living world. It connects the origin of life with the devastation of cancer, the first photosynthetic bacteria with our own mitochondria, sulfurous sludges with the emergence of consciousness, and the trivial differences between ourselves with the large-scale history of our planet.
This is a theatre event, where the speaker and audience are together in our Theatre.
This event will not be livestreamed.
About Nick Lane
Nick Lane is a biochemist and writer. He is Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry at University College London, and the author of Life Ascending, which won the 2010 Royal Society Prize, and The Vital Question, of which Bill Gates wrote 'this biology book blew me away'.
Nick's book Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death is available from Amazon and all good bookstores.
Doors to the theatre will open at 6.30pm. The event will begin at 7.00pm.
In line with government guidance, face masks are no longer mandatory. But while Covid-19 cases remain high, we recommend that face coverings are worn in our Theatre and at Ri events. Please also continue to observe other Covid-secure measures, such as maintaining a social distance where possible.
Please do not attend the Ri if you are displaying Covid-symptoms and/or are still returning a positive test.
Thank you for respecting other people and their choices, and for helping us keep all of our visitors and staff well.
The Theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.
The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.
There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.
Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be more than happy to help.
Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing email@example.com.
Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.
Event terms and conditions
Online booking for Royal Institution events is run by a third-party service, Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.co.uk).
View the full Eventbrite terms of service (www.eventbrite.com/tos)
Errors made by you when entering your data, are your responsibility and the Royal Institution will not be held responsible for any inconvenience caused by the supply of incorrect personal information, nor will we offer refunds on any accidental purchases made. It is your responsibility to check that the tickets issued to you are accurate.
The Royal Institution occasionally runs events in partnership with other organisations, learned societies and charities. In this instance we reserve the right to share your contact details with these third parties, solely for the purpose of providing you with information relating to that event.
Refunds and exchanging tickets
The Royal Institution will only guarantee a refund if the event is cancelled by us. Our liability in this case will be limited to the face value of your tickets.
If you wish to cancel your booking, you must let us know 24 hours before the start of the event.
The Royal Institution may allow users to request ticket refunds on online ticket purchases through Eventbrite at our discretion.
To request a refund, users must log into their personal Eventbrite account.
If you have purchased tickets by phone and wish to cancel your booking, you must call us at least one working day prior to the start of the event. To request a refund, please phone 020 7409 2992 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free tickets may be released at any time by the user at no charge.
Science Short Courses
For Science Short Courses, attendees may request a refund up to 7 days before the start of the course. After this point, a refund cannot be offered.
You must ensure that you book only the tickets for which you are eligible based on your level of membership at the time of the event. The Royal Institution reserves the right to cancel your ticket if member ticket eligibility criteria are not met.
Concession tickets are available for the following groups:
- Aged 66 or over
- Aged 16 or under
- Full-time students
- Anyone in receipt of Universal Credit
For online payments processed through Eventbrite payments may be made using American Express, MasterCard, Visa, or Visa Debit.
Payments made by phone are processed by a secure Tier 1 DSS compliant payment processor. We accept MasterCard, Visa, Visa Delta, Maestro and American Express. We cannot accept Solo, Visa Electron or Diners cards.
Bookings on behalf of a party of people
If you are booking on behalf of a party, you accept these terms and conditions on behalf of all members of your party and are responsible for all payments due from the party.
Unless specified, our public events are suitable for ages 15 and above. However for most events, younger children are more than welcome to attend with parental permission.
Children aged under 13 years must be with accompanying adult. If you are unsure of the suitability of an event for a young person, please contact the Public Programme team at email@example.com.
Freedom of speech
The Royal Institution is a forum for the free and open discussion of ideas, and we recognise the fundamental importance of freedom of speech within the law. All speakers who contribute to any of our programmes represent their own views and do not necessarily represent the views of the Royal Institution.
Refunds and exchanging tickets
The Royal Institution will only guarantee a refund if the event is cancelled by us. Our liability in this case will be limited to the face value of your tickets. If you have purchased tickets by phone and wish to cancel your booking, please phone 020 7409 2992 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have purchased tickets via Eventbrite and wish to cancel your booking you will need to log into your personal Eventbrite account. You may only request a refund if you have cancelled your ticket at least two weeks (14 days) prior to the workshop start date. After this date, a refund may be possible, but only if there is someone on the waiting list who can take your place.
Summer School workshops are very strictly for students within the age criteria advertised for each event. We are unable to accept bookings for students outside these ages and any bookings made for students who are not of the correct age at the time of the workshop will be cancelled. This is to make sure students attending can get the most out of their experience.
Workshops which run from 11am to 3pm include a lunch break and students must bring a packed lunch and a drink. For ages 16–18, students will be allowed the leave the building during this break. For ages 13–15, only when permission has been given at the time of booking will students be allowed to leave unattended. For ages 7–9 and 10–12, students will be fully supervised and only allowed to leave the building with their responsible adult.
If students have any allergies, medical conditions or access requirements please inform us of these at the time of booking, so we have time to make any adjustments required. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us via email@example.com.
Attending Ri events
The Royal Institution reserves the right to make any alterations to speakers, event content, event timing and/or event venue, and will make reasonable efforts to contact audience members to inform them of any changes. The Royal Institution will not be held liable for any changes made to the advertised event.
Right to refuse and search
The Royal Institution reserves the right to refuse you admission if, in its reasonable opinion, your admission to the venue might:
- Be a risk to the safety of the audience and/or yourself, and/or
- Affect the enjoyment of members of the audience, and/or
- Affect the running of the event
For example, if you act aggressively and/or appear to be under the influence of drink and/or drugs, you will be refused admission. We may also request you to leave (taking any such appropriate action that may be necessary to enforce this right) before or during events for any of the reasons given above. Should you be refused admission or requested to leave you will not be entitled to a refund. The Royal Institution may also, on certain occasions, have to conduct security searches to ensure your safety.
All children under the age of 11 must be accompanied by an adult while in the theatre. The Royal Institution reserves the right to refuse admission to an unaccompanied child under the age of 11.
The Royal Institution will, in most cases, be able to seat you if you arrive late to an event. However, we reserve the right to refuse you admission if you do not arrive by the start of the event. We also reserve the right to re-sell your ticket if you have not arrived by the start of the event. In the event of this occurring, we will endeavour to find you a seat or standing room, but this cannot be guaranteed.
For a copy of the risk assessment prepared for schools attending Royal Institution events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Filming and recording
By attending a Royal Institution event, audience members consent to being filmed, livestreamed, recorded and photographed. Audience members grant the Royal Institution the right to use recordings of any type made of their attendance in any and all media, and by means of publicity and promotion relating to the Royal Institution. School parties should ensure that appropriate parental permission is obtained before attendance at any Royal Institution event.
The unauthorised use of photographic, sound or film equipment in the venue is strictly prohibited. If you wish to use this equipment, please contact the Events Team prior to the start of the event. The copyright is assigned to the Ri for any recordings of events produced by the Ri. Unauthorised recording may result in content being destroyed, and your removal from the event without a ticket refund.
All electronic equipment, especially mobile phones, must be set to silent before entering the Theatre and/or any other spaces where events are taking place.
The Royal Institution operates a non-smoking policy throughout its entire building.
Events that supersede these terms and conditions
Some special events, for example the CHRISTMAS LECTURES, have Terms and Conditions for booking and attendance that supersede the ones given here. In those cases we will inform you of the new Terms and Conditions on booking.
The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme, and book links on this page may be affiliate links.
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All proceeds from our affiliate links help support the charitable work of the Ri.