2014 Talks at Basingstoke Cafe Sci

Mar 2014 - Life and environment: An evaluation of the Gaia Hypothesis

The speaker for the March 2014 meeting at The Tea Bar will be Professor Toby Tyrrell, who is professor of Earth system science at Southampton Oceanography Centre, based at the National Oceanography Centre.  The subject for this month is "Life and environment: An evaluation of the Gaia Hypothesis".

Professor Tyrell has had an unusual career path, originally studying engineering and artificial intelligence and then applying computer modelling skills he'd picked up to animal behaviour, oceanography and geology. 

In the 1970s James Lovelock made an interesting proposal. Life is not solely a pas­senger on a fortuitously habitable Earth, he suggested. Instead, life has been at the controls of the planetary environment, helping to ensure uninterrupted habitability over ~3 bil­lion years. In the time since it was first proposed, this Gaia hypothesis has inspired a variety of responses from scientists. It remains controversial. It is a fascinating idea, but is it correct? Professor Tyrell has investigated this from several perspectives including by scrutinising some of the reasons Lovelock himself put forward for why we should believe Gaia. In the talk he will first look at cooperative thermoregulation of a communal living space: under what circumstances is this observed to occur in nature? Second he will consider whether the global environment is really as suitable for life as Lovelock thought. Finally he will describe the changes to planetary environmental conditions that have occurred following some evolutionary innovations. Answers will be combined into a wider evaluation of whether the Gaia hypothesis is plausible (whether it is consistent with modern evidence).

The Tea Bar will be open from 6:30pm with the talk starting at 7:30pm, so you can get yourself a drink and have a chat with other participants. The discussions will aim to finish around 9:00pm, though everyone will be welcome to stay around and have a chat with the speaker afterwards ... and indulge in more of the Tea Bar's delicious cakes.

The format of the evening is usually a talk of 30 to 40 minutes, followed by a short break so the audience can refill their glasses, before questions and discussions about the talk. Entry is free and open to everyone, but we do encourage you to buy a tea, coffee or drink (and cakes) at the bar to show your support for The Tea Bar who sponsor the meeting by providing the venue.

Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore and debate the latest ideas in science and technology.  

Basingstoke Cafe Scientifique is a free Special Interest Group organised and sponsored by the Active Hampshire Social Club.


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