The world's seven-and-a-half billion people are dependent on just four crop species (wheat, rice, maize, and soybeans) for 80% of their calorific intake: we could be one global plant disease outbreak from a global famine. With these crop species, classical plant breeding, of the type that over the past century and a half has made potatoes less vulnerable to Phytophthera infestans, is unlikely to produce results, as genetic diversity has already been bred out of these species over the millennia of their cultivation. We need ways of inserting new genes for desirable characteristics.
In this lecture the Lit & Phil President, Dr Diana Letich, will explore the histories of Samuel and James Watts, from their fortunes from enormous a wholesale business in Manchester to their acquisition of Abney and Burnage Halls.
This lecture will draw on chemistry, combustion and biology to try to answer questions such as ‘how has chaos changed our general understanding of how nature can behave’, ‘how much complexity is really needed for chaos’ and ‘can we make use of it’?