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Materials for the 21st Century: What will we dream up next?

Mark Miodownik, materials engineer, broadcaster and writer delivered the 2018 Cantor Technology Lecture entitled 'Materials for the 21st Century: What will we dream up next?' In this lecture he explored how the distinction between living and non-living things in the world is becoming blurred.

Whatever people think about the rapid pace of change of technology, our most fundamental categorization of stuff on the planet has not altered: there are living things that we call life, and there is non-living stuff that we call rocks, tools, buildings and so on. As a result of our greater understanding of matter, this distinction is now becoming blurred and is likely to usher in a new materials age. Bionic people with synthetic organs, bones and even brains will be the norm. Just as we are becoming more synthetic, so our man-made environment is changing to become more lifelike: living buildings, and objects that heal-themselves are on the horizon. This lecture reviewed the changes to the material world that are coming our way.


About the speaker

Prof Miodownik is a materials engineer. He received his Ph.D in turbine jet engine alloys from Oxford University in 1996. Before joining UCL in Feb 2012 he worked in engineering research institutions in the USA, Ireland, and in the UK. He was included in the The Times 2010 list of the top 100 most influential people in science. He is a Chartered Engineer and in 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Prof Miodownik regularly gives popular talks on engineering and materials to tv, radio, festival, and school audiences. He gave the 2010 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and presented a three part BBC4 series on materials science called How it Works in Spring 2012. He writes for The Guardian and The Times, and he is a regular presenter of engineering TV programmes the BBC. In 2013 he was awarded the Rooke Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering. His book Stuff Matters was published in June 2013 and won the Royal Society Winton Prize and the US National Academies Keck Futures Prize. In 2016 he was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Public Engagement with Science.