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Paul Nurse What is Life?

Festival of Ideas
Paul Nurse

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Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Nurse explains the fundamental ideas in biology and their uses today.

The renowned biologist has spent his career revealing how living cells work. Now he sets out to describe what it means to be alive by exploring five great ideas that underpin biology: the Cell, the Gene, Evolution by Natural Selection, Life as Chemistry, and Life as Information. He introduces the scientists who made the most important advances, and, using his personal experiences in and out of the lab, shares with us the challenges, the lucky breaks and the thrilling eureka moments of discovery.

He offers a vital exploration of perhaps the most important question in science and the urgent role biology has to play in helping us survive the challenges – climate change, pandemic, loss of biodiversity and food security – that face us all today.

In conversation with Judith Squires, University of Bristol.

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Paul Nurse’s What Is Life? is published by David Fickling Books. Buy a copy from Waterstones, our bookselling partners.

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Paul Nurse

Paul Nurse is a geneticist and cell biologist who has worked on how the reproduction of cells is controlled. This process is the basis of growth and development in all living organisms. He is Director of the Francis Crick Institute in London and has served as Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, President of Rockefeller University and President of the Royal Society. He shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has received the Albert Lasker Award and the Royal Society’s Royal and Copley Medals. He was knighted in 1999 and received the Legion d’honneur from France in 2003 and the Order of the Rising Sun from Japan in 2018. He served for 15 years on the Council of Science and Technology, advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is presently a Chief Scientific Advisor for the European Union and a trustee of the British Museum.

Image credit: Fiona Hanson AP Images
Judith Squires

Judith Squires is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, University of Bristol and is a political theorist. She been on the editorial boards of a wide range of social science journals, and is currently on the Advisory Board for Bristol University Press. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and the RSA.

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