Leading genetics and artificial intelligence researcher Dr Adam Rutherford delivers a lecture to NCS science students


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Leading genetics and artificial intelligence researcher Dr Adam Rutherford delivers a lecture to NCS science students

On Monday 29th January 2018, science students at The NCS were treated to an afternoon with Dr Adam Rutherford, a leading scientific researcher, author and broadcaster who specialises in the fields of genetics and artificial intelligence. Dr Rutherford presents a popular Radio 4 show called “Inside Science”, is a regular science commentator in the media, and author of the recent best selling book “A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived”.

“Genetics is the subject that underlies every aspect of biology and that’s why it’s so important. There isn’t anything that you can understand truly about evolution, medicine, or any part of biology without having a fundamental understanding of how genetics works.”

NCS students were treated to a talk on the history of genetics and the moralities of science research. With our lecture programme designed to introduce cutting edge ideas and push thinking beyond the curriculum to support higher education applications and personal development, this was an eye opening talk.

“It’s important that we talk about the origin of genetics. It’s a subject that’s only had just over a century’s worth of research and understanding. I’m going to give you a brief history of the origins and how these ideas have transformed throughout the 20th century into a science that’s a really robust science. However it has a very dark past and I think now, more than ever, it’s important that we discuss the history of genetics in those terms.”

There was an important point to be raised from discussing the notions of the past from a historical standpoint, using a Victorian scientist by the name of Francis Galton as an example.

“The strong message that emerges from talking about Francis Galton is that the science he invented disproved his own ideas. And that’s what science does. It removes our prejudices by observing the world in an objective way.”

It was an insightful talk designed to provoke thought and ensure our students asked questions not only of their own science but of that which has gone before us, essential ideals for all scientists. The questions students posed during the Q&A that followed immediately saw them reflecting on these ideas.

Dr Rutherford was extremely generous with his time. After the lecture’s official end he stayed to talk with a small group of students for an additional hour about all kinds of areas of genetics and AI in their science studies. It’s extremely rare to have such access and discussion with a leading scientist in their field, so everyone at The NCS would like to thank Dr Rutherford for the time he provided us.

The Student View
``I found it fascinating to see how all the fundamental framework that makes up science as we know it today came from a very dark and neglected corner of history. Moreover, the history behind eugenics was really interesting. I for one only knew about the topics of eugenics from its practice in the Holocaust and was not aware of its positive uses in things like selective breeding in animals. Finally, after the talk that we had as a group about clownfish, I don’t think I’ll be able to see adorable little Nemo and Marvin in the same way ever again!``
``After sitting through just that short yet amazing lecture about genetics, I am beginning to have second thoughts carrying on with the medicine plan!!``
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