The standard view of evolution is that complex living things arise through gradual refinements of simpler precursors; each successive version becoming better adapted through natural selection, leading to exquisitely refined, complex mechanisms.
But there is another route for life to evolve complexity. Rather than being fine-tuned creations of natural selection, complex features can arise simply because biology is messy and noisy.
In this talk, Jonathan Pettitt will explain how living systems tend to make simple mechanisms more complicated than they need to be. He will show how such ‘unnecessary complexity’ can both restrict and expand an organism’s evolutionary potential.
Jonathan is the 2020 Genetics Society JBS Haldane Lecturer.
About the JBS Haldane Lecture
The JBS Haldane Lecture recognises an individual for outstanding ability to communicate topical subjects in genetics research, widely interpreted, to an interested lay audience. This speaker will have a flair for conveying the relevance and excitement of recent advances in genetics in an informative and engaging way.
Watch Giles Yeo, give his 2019 JBS Haldane Lecturer, Is Obesity a Choice?.
This is a Theatre event, where the speaker and audience in our Theatre are joined by an online audience.
Tickets to attend in person or to watch the livestream are both available from this page.
About Jonathan Pettitt
Jonathan Pettitt is a Professor in Genetics at the University of Aberdeen. He has a long-standing interest in applying the manifold advantages of C. elegans to study the genetics of basic animal biology. His current research investigates the molecular basis of post-transcriptional RNA processing, including nematode-specific mechanisms; the understanding of which may facilitate the development of new drugs to treat parasitic nematode infections.
Jonathan is strongly committed to public engagement with genetics. He believes that the explosion in the availability and application of human genome sequence information, coupled with the development of genome engineering technology, means that there has never been a more urgent need to ensure genetic literacy beyond the traditional areas of research and healthcare.
As a passionate and enthusiastic communicator of genetics, Jonathan has written and presented a broad range of events, including The ‘Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas’ at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the Royal Institution, and science festivals in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Sofia, Bulgaria. He was the genetics consultant for Helen Keen’s book, ‘The Science of Game of Thrones’.
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.
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.
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The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.
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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.
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Science Short Courses
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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.
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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.
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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.