"Why are we here?"

Dr Martin Hendry
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Glasgow

Armagh Observatory and Armagh Natural History and Philosophical Society joint public lecture to celebrate International Year of Astronomy 2009. Held in the Rotunda Theatre, St. Patrick’s Trian, on Thursday 22 October 2009.

Since the dawn of civilisation human cultures have sought to understand our place in the universe, asking "big questions" about our cosmic origins. Modern cosmology provides some startling answers to these questions: not only is the universe expanding, but we believe the expansion to be accelerating -- driven by a mysterious "dark energy" that challenges our ideas about gravity and the very nature of space and time. Moreover our runaway universe appears to be rather delicately balanced, in the sense that small changes in the laws of nature would result in a very different cosmos -- most likely unsuitable for life like us. What does all of this mean for our cosmic origins? Is our universe unique, or do we belong to a "multiverse" -- a vast ensemble of universes, each with its own laws of nature? In his lecture, Dr Hendry will explore these, and other, questions posed by the latest cosmological discoveries, and discuss what implications they might have for the existence of life in the universe.

Introduction
by Prof Mark Bailey
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Lecture "Why are we here?"
by Dr Martin Hendry
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Questions and answers and vote of thanks by Eamonn Scullion
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Last Revised: 2009 November 6th