Gresham College

13:00
Lottery-Winning Maths

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The field of probability started when a French nobleman asked the mathematician Blaise Pascal to solve a dispute for him about a game consisting of throwing a pair of dice 24 times. Pascal discussed this and other problems with fellow mathematician Pierre de Fermat, in a series of letters in which they arrived at the basic principles of probability theory. This lecture looks at dice, cards, lotteries, and other games of chance. Can mathematics help us win?

18:00
The Ocean Physics Behind Net Zero

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Why is the deep ocean cold? And why does this matter for global warming? Doing the maths with pipes and plumbing, not computers, we explore how processes that keep the deep oceans at frigid Arctic temperatures also determine how fast the world is warming in response to rising greenhouse gas concentrations – and also explain why it would be so difficult to say when the warming would stop even if we were to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at today’s levels forever.

February

18:00
Anglo-Saxon Pagan Gods

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When the Western Roman Empire crumbled, the Anglo-Saxon peoples who occupied Britain brought their own paganism with them. This was Germanic, with a pantheon of deities that included Woden, Thunor, Tiw and Frig. Its temples were wooden structures that leave scant traces in the landscape, but you can find evidence for their beliefs in cemeteries like Sutton Hoo. This lecture looks at such evidence and at literature such as Beowulf and the history written by the Christian scholar Bede.

18:00
Do We Need Barristers?

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What are the strengths and weaknesses of the distinction between solicitors and barristers? What is the purpose of the independent Bar in our legal system today? How does England and Wales compare with common law jurisdictions which have abandoned, or have never had, a split profession? Is the Bar’s history as a bastion of privilege, its various historical monopolies and prerogatives, and its culture and organisation problematic? What are the benefits of an independent Bar?

18:00
Living with Mental Health

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There is a rising number of people of all ages with mental health illnesses globally, that has been accompanied by a greater willingness to talk about it in many places. What are the most common disorders and the best treatment options, including non-medical treatment and lifestyle modifications? The lecture will conclude by looking at global mental health myths, for example in several cultures individuals with problems are considered to be holding a negative spirit inside them.