Water seems ordinary – it pours from our taps and falls from the sky. But you would be surprised at what a profoundly strange substance it is. It defies the normal rules of chemistry, it has shaped the Earth, its life and our civilisation. Without it, none of us would exist. The water in our rivers, lakes and oceans all came from outer space. How it arrived here and how those molecules of water were formed is a story scientists have only learned in recent years and which takes us back to the beginning of the universe.
Alok Jha will take you on a dual journey – first, an expedition to Antarctica, where the power and importance of water is made manifest in the great ice fields, icebergs and world-shaping weather systems of the Southern Ocean. And secondly, on a parallel scientific voyage that takes us from the origins of water in the Big Bang, through the beginnings of life on Earth, the shaping of human civilisations and then back out into space as water becomes the key marker in our search for life in the Solar System and beyond.
This talk was also given as the 2016 Cawthron Memorial Lecture and the video provided here is thanks to the Cawthron Institute:
Listen to interview with RNZ’s Kim Hill – Alok Jha: The extraordinary story of our ordinary substance.
Alok Jha is the science correspondent for ITV News in the UK. Before that, he did the same job at the Guardian for a decade, where he wrote news, features, comment and presented the award-winning Science Weekly podcast. He has also reported live from Antarctica and presented many TV and radio programmes for the BBC.
A physics graduate from Imperial College London, Alok has covered hundreds of stories on everything from space to stem cells, quantum physics to comedy. He has also floated aboard a zero‐gravity flight with the European Space Agency, had his genes sequenced, learned how to Lindy‐Hop, hung out with daredevil botanists in the mountains of Lebanon, and reported from location in Cape Canaveral as the space shuttle took off on its final mission. Alok received a science-writing award from the American Institute of Physics in 2014, was named European Science Writer of the year in 2008, and has been shortlisted for feature writer of the year at the annual Association of British Science Writers awards.
Auckland | 6pm Tuesday 30 August 2016
Auditorium, Auckland Museum, The Domain, Parnell
Wellington | 6pm Wednesday 31 August 2016
Paramount Theatre, Courtenay Place, Wellington
Alok Jha spoke in Nelson on 24 August to give the Cawthron Memorial Lecture and appeared at WORD Christchurch.