Public Lecture Series 2012: What is Reality? - Through the Looking Glass

Thursday 15 March 2012
7pm - 9pm
Event type Public Lecture
Location Newton Room, Hamilton Centre
Booking Required? No
Does humankind have the potential to unravel nature’s profoundest secrets, or does the very nature of being human distort our perceptions of what is real? Is it possible to define the meaning of 'reality'?

Chair: Andrew Ward

Speakers: Akram Khan, Dany Nobus, William Watkin

Focusing on physical realities, Akram Khan will share his sense of wonder about the fact that humankind now has within its grasp the means of unveiling nature’s profoundest secrets. Dany Nobus, however, will demonstrate that the hidden truth of all forms of reality is that they must be false because they are inevitably identified through the distorted lens of human experience. William Watkin will argue that reality is not composed of secrets hidden down rabbit holes or false reflections from a distorting lens, but is a magic two-way mirror that has no meaning beyond its ability to make other meanings intelligible, truthful and questionable.


Akram Khan

Professor Akram Khan is a world-leading researcher in the areas of fundamental and applied science. He has published extensively in a wide range of key academic journals. He has worked at most of the leading national laboratories in the world: DESY in Germany, CERN in Switzerland and SLAC in the USA.

He read Mathematics and Theoretical Physics for his Bachelors’ degree at St Andrews University, taking his PhD in Experimental Particle Physics at University College London. Akram was a European Research Fellow at CIEMAT in Spain and at CERN in Switzerland, then a Senior Fellow at Edinburgh and Manchester Universities, going on to a faculty position at Stanford University, before joining Brunel University in 2003.

His recent research has been addressing the fundamental questions: "What is the difference between matter and anti-matter?" and "What new exotic physics processes might help us to address the existing inadequacies of the Standard Model?"

In the field of applied science he is working on developing a novel particle cancer therapy machine in the UK, and on the next generation of internet technologies.

Dany Nobus

Dany NobusProfessor Dany Nobus is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Development and External Relations, and Chair of Psychology and Psychoanalysis in the School of Social Sciences at Brunel University, where he also directs the MA Programme in Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society.

He is the author, most recently, of Knowing Nothing, Staying Stupid: Elements for a Psychoanalytic Epistemology, and has published numerous articles, book chapters and reports in various academic and professional journals.

Professor Nobus' research interests centre around issues of clinical psychoanalytic work, with a special emphasis on technical matters, and epistemological debates concerning the development, acquisition and transmission of knowledge. He has also done research on the dynamics of human sexuality, including theoretical studies of the concept of perversion and empirical research on priests who sexually abuse children. His current research activities focus on the theoretical and socio-cultural representations of non-normative sexual behaviours, and the effect of changing representations of fatherhood in Western society on parenting strategies and socialisation practices.

He is currently at work on a book entitled Deathbound Sexualities, in which he challenges the common idea that human sexuality is a life-sustaining force in the service of the reproduction of the species or the affirmation of self-identity.

William Watkin

William WatkinWilliam Watkin is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Philosophy in the School of Arts at Brunel University. He has been a member of the Brunel faculty for eleven years and Brunel was his first job after completing his PhD at Queens University Belfast. He also studied at Manchester and Sussex universities. Previous to living in Ireland he lived for two years in Poland and spent some of his childhood in Nigeria. He was born and grew up in Stoke-on-Trent.

William has published three books on postmodern poetry, elegy and the aesthetics of Giorgio Agamben respectively. He is widely published in the fields of contemporary poetry and contemporary philosophy. His fourth book, entitled Agamben and Indifference, and a fifth, Deleuze and the Inconsistency of Indifference are both completed and should appear in 2013. They are preparatory works for a wider consideration of the philosophy of indifference. Another large-scale project he is working on is a reconsideration of aesthetics from the perspective of his ideas on indifference.

Although indifference features strongly in his academic life, William would like it to be known that in general he considers himself to quite the enthusiast, indifferent only to sport and the kind of car he drives. Oh yes, and gadgets.

Page last updated: Thursday 16 February 2012