Growing Up in the Universe

Growing Up in the Universe is a series of lectures given by Professor Richard Dawkins, discussing the evolution of life in the universe. The lectures were part of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1991, and were first broadcast in the year, in the form of five one-hour episodes, on BBC.

Oxford professor Richard Dawkins presents a series of lectures on life, the universe, and our place in it. With brilliance and clarity, Dawkins unravels an educational gem that will mesmerize young and old alike. Illuminating demonstrations, wildlife, virtual reality, and special guests (including Douglas Adams) all combine to make this collection a timeless classic.

Episode 1 - Waking Up in the Universe

Episode 1 - Waking Up in the Universe
The long chain of successful ancestors means that the probability of our existence is very small, and we are lucky to be alive. By turning down the lights and shining a small spotlight on a large ruler in front of him, Dawkins illustrates the darkness of the distant past and of the unknown future.

Episode 2 - Designed and Designoid Objects
Dawkins examines some designed objects and discusses what he calls "designoid objects". Then he moves into an explanation of natural selection, which brings forth designoid objects, and discusses the most popular alternative to natural selection, which is known as creationism.

Episode 3 - Climbing Mount Improbable
Dawkins introduces the notion of inherited improvements over a number of generations. Nature proceeds through small evolutionary steps, rather than large leaps. This idea is illustrated by a model of the ascent of Mount Improbable.

Episode 4 - The Ultraviolet Garden
Dawkins asks his audience to put off the idea that the natural world exists for our benefit. He considers the question of flowers seen through the eyes of bees and other pollinators, and performs a series of demonstrations which use ultraviolet light to excite fluorescence in various substances.

Episode 5 - The Genesis of Purpose
Dawkins concludes that purpose has arisen in the Universe due to human brains. The simulations developed in our brain allow us to develop intent and purpose; and over time our collective understanding of the Universe will improve as we continue to study and exchange ideas.

Related Links
Growing Up in the Universe - wikipedia
Growing Up in the Universe was a series of lectures given by Richard Dawkins as part of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, in which he discussed the evolution of life in the universe.
Christmas Lectures 1991 - Growing Up in the Universe | RI Channel
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