08 Jul 2016 Lord Robert Winston visits Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre (The NCS) Scientists
The NCS were extremely privileged to welcome Lord Robert Winston as part of our unrivalled Lecture Programme. Most of you will recognise Lord Winston from his work on TV. He produces and presents documentaries on the human science for the BBC; most notably following a group of millennial babies throughout their lives in “Child of our Time” and the Bafta winning “The Human Body”. However his career as a scientist is also one of distinction as the pioneer of what we now know as IVF fertility treatment.
He wanted to visit our students in order to inspire them to become the next generation of Scientists and to explain how science research works in the real world. He covered topics such as why scientific research is funded, notable technologies of the last century and using scientific literacy to identify their benefits and dangers beyond everyday uses. An example of this was when he explained his views that the aeroplane is the most dangerous technological development of our time not because it can crash, nor the pollution it emits (both reasons offered by our students), but because of their ability to transmit diseases globally quickly – or as he said their role as “an infection vector”.
“Please understand that doing science does not just involve learning about physics or chemistry. It’s actually about understanding the wider compass; why it’s important, how it fits into our society and what moral values there are”
Another key aspect in his lecture was about the need and importance of collaboration in the scientific community. He noted the hundred or so people who work in a team at his laboratory and his ability to work and collaborate with other teams across the globe. When it came to why this was important, Lord Winston provided a unique perspective for our students to take away.
“When Albert Einstein died they dissected his brain to see why he was so clever. What they found was that his brain wasn’t different in any real way from yours or my brain. So two of you working together in a laboratory have more brain capacity that Albert Einstein. Good science is done in collaboration.”
Discussing some key developments in science technology (the laser, the aeroplane and the microchip) in great detail over the course of an hour, NCS students gained a valuable insight into the care and attention to detail you need as a working scientist. For those whose studies of science will lead to other industries, he hoped that he also highlighted the way in which a literacy in science can be beneficial to you no matter where you end up.
“What is important is that you see the relevances of science in the compass of your knowledge. That, to my mind, is vital.”
Walking around the room, Lord Winston then took several questions from our biologists. He answered them all honestly, calmly and in great detail. Whats more is he didn’t answer from afar, he moved to the questioner and talked directly with them. For anyone with an interest in studying science, such an encounter is incredibly rare and one to be savoured!
Everyone at The NCS would like to thank Lord Winston for taking time to visit us and engaging so wonderfully with our students.
The Student View
“Having Professor Winston talk at The NCS was the greatest privilege! His talk challenged not only the view of science as we know it, but offered a brand new perspective on the biggest threats faced by humanity in the nearby future. I particularly enjoyed the ease and honesty with which he answered questions raised to him regarding the relationship between science and religion, the power of science itself and his own experiences and stance on topics such as IVF. A truly engaging and riveting lecture. “ - Monalisa
“As a student of science and religious studies I really enjoyed the talk because I was able to make connections from the talk to all of my subjects. The talk was engaging and interesting because it was about the fundamental principles of science not just a talk specifically about biology.” - Shehr
“It was an honour to have Professor Winston come talk to us at the NCS, his lecture was compelling and thought provoking. I gained an insight into the real world of science, not only its advantages and benefits but also the risks associated with it, which we, as the future generation of scientists should be conscious of.” - Yasmin
“It was a unique, insightful talk which did not only speak about the science behind new discoveries, but also how they can be applied in our day to day lives. Lord Robert Winston clearly explained how science has its pros and cons and is being used to both benefit and damage mankind.” - Shaheer