All the Starmus speakers together on stage. Photo: Starmus.
Updated 2 July: Starmus III 2016 came to a close last evening in the Santa Cruz Auditorium with a glittering array of stars of the human variety. Sarah Brightman, the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Anathema, Chris Hadfield and Rick Wakeman performing his now globally famous ISS-performed Bowie cover Space Oddity, Hans Zimmer and Brian May, and the award of the Stephen Hawking medal, and guest appearances from U2 and even Tim Peake, recently returned himself from the ISS. This is a simply fabulous festival, and just keeps getting better. Here are some photos, all courtesy of Michael James Picard, to give a taste of the ultimate evening. I think everyone there will hope there’s a Starmus IV – how could there not be?
Updated 1 July: It turns out that the threat made yesterday at Starmus was from a stalker who had directly threatened Stephen Hawking. She is said to be an American woman living in Norway who has been stalking Hawking for years, and who specifically came to Tenerife to coincide with Starmus. She was staying in a hotel near the Pirámide and is already in custody. The professor was supposed to testify in court this morning but has produced a medical certificate excusing his physical appearance in court. Police have the matter totally under control.
Updated 30 June: There was a Star Party on Tuesday night with Brian Eno featuring Anathema at the ITER centre – photos below. Yesterday was then the middle day of Starmus, and I’ve updated the page HERE with the papers given by the speakers. A photo call by Garik Israelian saw all of them take the stage at one point – above – an incredible image of distinguished scientists, astronauts, cosmonauts and Nobel Laureates from a range of fields. Last night was the gala dinner, and today there has been a round table discussion which was streamed online and back to the Pirámide conference hall from the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma. Tonight there’s a stargazing trip up Teide, and tomorrow, the final day, is devoted to the Sonic Universe concert in the Santa Cruz auditorium featuring Sarah Brightman, the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Rick Wakeman, Brian May … and Chris Hadfield with Bowie’s Space Oddity! All in all, another stunning festival, and I’m sure that something that’s simply so wonderful will not be able to stop at three!
Star Party Photos: Michael James Picard.
Updated 29 June: I’ve updated the page HERE with Day Two’s papers.
Updated 28 June: Starmus 2016 opened yesterday to a full Pirámide de Arona auditorium, with the audience keenly anticipating an opening day packed with fascinating talks from a range of speakers including world-famous figures and Nobel prize winners. Opening the whole festival, Garik Israelian said that over 1,000 delegates were attending, and that whatever the future held for Starmus as a festival, this one would take some beating, with twelve Nobel Laureates and seven astronauts in Tenerife for the event.
Israelian was followed by the Director of the Canarian Astrophysics Institute, and Tenerife President Carlos Alonso, who both welcomed the audience to Tenerife and praised the organization that had gone into the conference. They were followed by a Cabildo tourism adviser who said that we enjoy such a privilege in our clear sky here, a factor which accounted for the phenomenal growth in astro-tourism, and which had the capacity to inspire not just a travel sector, but the human spirit itself.
There was a lot packed into the first day, and rather than make this an unreadably long post, I’ve created a page HERE with brief accounts of the papers given by the speakers. To me, twenty minutes is not quite long enough for speakers of this calibre to cover what, at times, are Nobel Prize level subjects, and inevitably everything ran over. What was clear, none the less, is that Starmus is pure inspiration, from intellectual, scientific and purely human perspectives. Long may it continue!
Updated 26 June: And it’s here! The whole festival starts tomorrow but as of this evening, the great and the good are descending on Tenerife as registration starts in the Pirámide de Arona at 4pm. I’ll be at all the talks, as last time, and hope to give everyone who can’t be there a taste of what this wonderful event is like, and what it’s all about – a gathering together of all those representative of humanity’s striving to the future in interrelated and interdisciplinary studies into humankind and its place in the universe. Brian May has called the mix of scientists, humanitarians, musicians, and all those who inspire a “mad and wonderful enterprise”. I’m sure this time will be no different.
Updated 4 May: Very sad news with the death of Nobel chemist Sir Harold Walter Kroto, FRS, better known as just Harry Kroto, who was one of the absolute hits of the last Starmus. As I posted HERE,
His talk was about Carbon in Nano and Outer Space. A bundle of laughs, some might think … but they’d be right! This was no dull talk, and this was no ordinary Nobel Laureate. They are generally humble and normal people, I’ve found from the few I’ve come into contact with, but Kroto is something else. This is a man who loves jokes and puns, who loves – and draws – graphics and cartoons, a man who loves wine, and play! A graduate of Sheffield, Harry – or rather, Sir Harold! – is now emeritus professor at the University of Sussex where he spent most of his career, and Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry at Florida State University. His lecture ranged from cartoon images, to wine, to the need for lack of pressure, to the essential nature of play, and of course to his discovery of C60, the first fullerene molecule to be discovered, and the reason for his Nobel prize. If any talk encapsulated Brian May’s dictum about the interrelated and interdisciplinary nature of studies into humanity and its place in the universe, the underlying ethos of Starmus, it was Harold Kroto’s, and the delegates clearly recognized this, giving the Laureate chemist a standing ovation.
Sir Harry died this last Saturday, and will no doubt be greatly honoured in this next Starmus, where he was due to give a much anticipated talk.
Updated 27 April: The programme is now available HERE.
Updated 26 April 2016: It’s just two months away now, and Starmus organizers have announced that Stephen Hawking, a great music lover, will be honoured in the Sonic Universe concert by Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer (winner for The Lion King, with ten other nominations), in a new multimedia piece, Warped Side of the Universe. Gravitational waves, colliding black holes, exploding supernovas, and the birth of our universe will be created by Paul Franklin, twice Oscar winner for best special effects (Inception – 2010 and Interestellar – 2014), and legendary astrophysicist Kip Thorne. All of this will be experienced through music, videos, computer simulations, poetry and prose.
In addition, Sarah Brightman will bring her Dreamchaser world tour performance to the conference in honour of Professor Hawking. Together with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, the performance will include a stunning high-resolution journey through space, from the bursts of explosive celestial energy to the static beauty of nebulae. Sarah Brightman said “I am delighted to have been invited to perform at this unique event in support of the new Stephen
Hawking Medal for Science Communication and Starmus, and look forward to performing with the acclaimed Tenerife Symphony Orchestra.”
The progressive rock band Anathema will also perform, and say that they are “very honoured to be invited to play Starmus festival this year. To be in the company of so many luminaries from the worlds of science and music in the year that Starmus pays tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking is going to be a once in a lifetime experience.”
After two ground-breaking editions in 2011 and 2014, gathering together the most important representatives in these fields, such as the astronaut Neil Armstrong and Professor Stephen Hawking, Starmus III will include twelve Nobel laureates from Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Astronomy. In addition to the lectures, another highlight will be the ‘Ask Hawking’ segment which, as in the previous edition, will enable members of the public to pose questions to the great scientist.
Updated 19 June 2015: Starmus organizers have announced that next year’s event will include ten Nobel prizewinners in the fields of Physics, Chemistry and Medicine: Harold Kroto and Eric Betzig (Chemistry, 1996 and 2014, respectively); biologists Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn (shared award for Medicine, 2009); Robert Wilson and David Gross (Physics, 1978 and 2004, respectively); Adam Riess and Brian Schmidt (shared award for Physics, 2011); and Edvard and May-Britt Moser (shared award for Physiology or Medicine in 2014).
In addition to the Nobel laureates, the festival will feature renowned astronomers, astrophysicists and scientists, notably astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Garrett Reisman, Chris Hadfield and Russell Schweickart, cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Sergey Volkov, astrophysicists Neil deGrasse Tyson, Kip Thorne, Martin Rees, Jill Tarter and Robert Williams, and physicist Neil Turok.
With this variety of speakers, Starmus 2016 will cover a range of scientific disciplines, naturally including astrophysics and astronomy but also biology, neuroscience, chemistry, physics and, of course, space exploration and the great challenges still facing humanity. It will also analyse the diffuse relationship between science and science fiction in the area of technology applied to the future of humanity – this will be done through a unique interactive show which will give the public the opportunity to discover the main thematic format of Starmus, namely the magic fusion between science, art and music.
As I posted a couple of days ago, registration is now open.
Update 17 June: Registration is now open for Starmus 2016. There are significant discounts for Canary Island residents, as there are for those who register before the end of 2015. For all prices, and to book, see HERE.
Original post 28 April 2015: It was never expected to be the stunning success that it turned out to be, but last year’s Starmus took organizers’ breath away – see HERE for last year’s conference. Now, Starmus III has been announced for 27 June to 2 July next year: the festival is now a biennial event. With the tagline “Beyond the horizon – tribute to Stephen Hawking”, Starmus 2016 was introduced today by Tenerife president Carlos Alonso in the company of Brian May, Garik Israelian, and Hawking himself. Much more to come on this, I’m sure, but for the moment, HERE is Starmus III’s website, with a list of confirmed speakers including Neil deGrasse Tyson. Registration opens before July this year.