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Human Limits

Friday 28 September 19.00-21.30 and Saturday 29 September 10.30-17.00

Men on the moon

The onset of the industrial revolution and the technological advances that followed it have stretched our limits more than ever before. We’ve taken to the skies, to outer space and to the depths of the ocean. But what do these new-found environments mean for our bodies and minds? Why do humans always want to stretch their capabilities? How have we imagined the future in the past, and what possibilities might be opened up in the future? How are these possibilities represented in science fiction?

This symposium will examine our relationship with technology and how it stretches our ability to perform in the world. From the influence of the light bulb on our working patterns to space missions and the impact they have had on our physiology, the event will also look forward to what our relationship with technology might be like in the future.

Friday 28 September

Enjoy a screening of 'Aelita: Queen of Mars' (Yakov Protazanov, 1924), one of the first films to depict space travel. This silent film will be accompanied by a live band, Minima, and followed by a drinks reception.

Saturday 29 September

Talks and discussions will continue on the Saturday, when the following questions will be explored using several different perspectives:

  • How were the technologies that we take for granted today received when they were first invented?
  • What pressures do extreme environments put on the body, physiologically?
  • Where does the boundary lie between training our bodies and technology?
  • What will our relationship with technology be like in the future?
  • How did science fiction shift from outer space to inner space?


Christine Cornea, Lecturer, School of Film and Television, University of East Anglia

Kevin Fong, Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fellow

Graeme Gooday, Professor of History of Science and Technology, University of Leeds

Anders Sandberg, James Martin Research Fellow, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford

Emily Sargent, curator, Wellcome Collection, giving an overview of the Superhuman exhibition

Karen Throsby, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Warwick

£30 full price/£25 concessions for both days, including drinks on Friday evening and lunch, tea and coffee on Saturday. To book, please call +44 (0)20 7611 2222.

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