Oral history of British science
Wickramasinghe, Chandra (13 of 13). Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum. Life Story Interviews
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Science and Religion
2015-07-28, 2015-07-29, 2015-07-30
British Library, London
Wickramasinghe, Chandra, 1939- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 13: Comments on places in which a feeling of being part of the universe is experienced strongly by self, as signalled in autobiography ADCL; tendency to have unrestricted thoughts during walks in open spaces; tendency to use opportunity of lecturing on cruise ships to experience night sky from deck of ship; significance of the ocean as reminder of the presence of change in the world. [5:17] Comments on role of chance/fortune/serendipity in own life. [7:18] Further comments on perception of general discourse on relations between science and religion as evident in late nineteenth century and then again recently involving strong arguments for science (mentions Richard Dawkins [RD]) in response to perceived threat of development of creationism in the US. Comments on RD's position against all religion (not just creationism); tendency not to have commented "in public arena" on relations between science and religion in general (mentions private discussions with members of audience after own talks); talks given on relations between science and Buddhism at London Buddhist Vihara, Chiswick, at invitation of "head priest" Ven Bogoda Seelawimala [VBS]; content of these talks; VBS's interest in astronomy/cosmology; own belief that awareness of our cosmic origins is present in human sense of self ("written into us"). Discussion of this view, including nature of inspiration/intuition. Mentions belief that VBS is not trained in science. [19:05] Story of origins of relations with Japanese Buddhist scholar Daisaku Ikeda through writing of preface on relations between Buddhism and science, including publication of dialogue between self and DI (mentions other published dialogues between DI and Linus Pauling/Arnold Toynbee), own support for DI's Soka Gakkai international movement. [24:09] Comments on continuation of collaboration with FH until FH's death 2001, including content of final paper published together. [26:33] Comments on own response to death of FH, including involvement in commemorative events; continuation of work subsequently. [29:26] Comments on 'Nature' editor John Maddox's [JM] negative view of own/FH's incursion into biology informing/explaining certain aspects of his obituary of FH. [32:19] Story of participation in television programme 'Are We Alone?' . [33:59] Story of participation in BBC 'Horizon' programme 'We are the aliens' [first broadcast 14.11.2006] on the 'red rain of Kerala' following publication of paper by Godfrey Louis. Comments on very limited media coverage of questions/findings relating to extra-terrestrial life, including perception of "movement...to delay a long overdue paradigm shift" from Earth centred to cosmic origins of life. [39:01] Comments on use of the internet by self and by other representing self to raise awareness of own/FH's work (with associated comments on difficulties of publishing certain work in journals and view of peer review process). Positive comments on 'Journal of Astrobiology and Outreach' (mentions own role as Editor in Chief). Mentions non-use of blogs, Twitter. Comments on use of such platforms by Bill Smith, author of website http://profchandra.org/. Mentions publication in open access online 'Journal of Cosmology'. [44:08] Story of origins of website http://www.panspermia.org by US lawyer with interest in cosmic origins, Brig Klyce [BK]. Positive comments on work of BK, including his astrobiology research fund (established by selling of family business) and close attention to news/research on panspermia. [48:31] Story of decision to write the autobiographical book 'A Journey with Fred Hoyle' at time FH was writing his own autobiography 'Home Is Where the Wind Blows' ; decision to write more detailed autobiography 'A Destiny of Cosmic Life' [ADCL]; writing of expanded version of ADCL, edited by daughter Kamala 'Where Did We Come From?: Life of an Astrobiologist' . [51:58] Comments on extent to which own autobiography is intended to "reemphasise" priority of self/FH over certain discoveries in astrobiology/panspermia, given trend of recent scientific work in support of panspermia (mentions findings of Kepler spacecraft). [54:36] Comments on own personal archive, currently at home in organised state; possibilities for donation of the archive (mentions UOC college, Japanese organisation 'Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics'). [57:07] Description of content of personal archive. [59:46] Comments on invitation to record life story for National Life Stories, including perception of gap in oral history record of Fred Hoyle's life and work.
Life story interview with Professor of Astrobiology, Chandra Wickramasinghe