The Gamesmakers: Oxonians Preparing for London 2012

In this podcast Alumni discuss their involvement with the Olympics (Video version) or (Audio version)

A panel discussion from the Alumni Weekend 2012 with some of the Oxonians most closely involved with the successful Olympics bid, providing a fascinating insight into the thrills and anxiety of preparing for London 2012.

The series also includes a historical overview of the Oxford sporting connection.

To find out more about the Oxford connection visit the University Olympics portal:

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Oxford’s work in the Higgs boson-like particle discovery

Dr Alan Barr explains all in this podcast –

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider claim the discovery of a particle believed to be the long-sought Higgs boson.

Dr Alan Barr

Alan Barr of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, UK physics coordinator for LHC’s ATLAS experiment, describes what the world’s highest energy particle accelerator saw, Oxford’s role in the research and what it means for science.

“If this particle really is the Higgs boson, then we will have precise knowledge about the particles and forces of the Standard Model. That really deserves something of a celebration. But we should be cautious. Remember that, if the astronomers are correct, Standard Model particles make up only about 5% of the contents of the universe.

The “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy” which are believed to control the evolution of the universe as a whole have never yet been made in the lab. Understanding this other 95% of the universe is an exciting prospect, and is sure to exercise the combined intellects and technological prowess of new astronomers and particle physicists for many decades to come.

With luck, the first clues may come in the next few years, as we turn up the LHC to even higher energies and probe even further into new and undiscovered terrain”.

More on this story here:

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Aung San Suu Kyi at Oxford University Encaenia 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi at Oxford University Encaenia 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi has received an honorary degree from the University of Oxford at a ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre today, along with seven leading figures from the worlds of science, the arts, intelligence and business.

Daw Suu, Chairman of the Burmese National League for Democracy (NLD) and member of the Burmese parliament, was awarded the honorary doctorate in civil law in April 1993, but until now has been unable to receive it in person.

She received the award at Encaenia, the University’s annual ceremony at which honorary degrees are conferred on distinguished men and women and benefactors are commemorated.

Aung San Suu Kyi told attendees at the University of Oxford’s annual Encaenia ceremony this afternoon that her Oxford experience ‘helped me to cope with all the challenges I had to face’ and that it taught her ‘respect for the best in human civilisation’.

In a break with tradition, Daw Suu, who is Chairman of the Burmese National League for Democracy and member of the Burmese parliament, was invited to give a speech after receiving her honorary doctorate in civil law at the ceremony, held in the Sheldonian Theatre.

You can view a video of her full speech here.

She told a packed audience that ‘during the most difficult years I was upheld by memories of Oxford. These were among the most important inner resources that helped me to cope with all the challenges I had to face … During the years I was under house arrest my university, the University of Oxford, stood up and spoke up for me’. She said she cherished her time at St Hugh’s College where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (1964-1967) and formed ‘simple’ but ‘very precious’ memories of spending time with friends.

‘These are very precious memories because I had lived a happy life and this made me understand so much better the young people of Burma who wanted to live a happy life and had never been given an opportunity to lead one.’ She said that on meeting current students at St Hugh’s, she saw herself: ‘They were so open, as we were open, because we had been given the chance to be open. We were not afraid, there was no reason for us to be afraid, and this opened us to the world.’

Turning to one of the other honorands, she revealed: ‘When I was under house arrest I was also helped by the books of John Le Carré … they were a journey into the wider world. These were the journeys that made me feel that I was not really cut off from the rest of humankind.’

The most important thing she had learnt at Oxford, she said, was ‘respect for the best in human civilisation – and the best in human civilisation comes from all parts of the world … it gave me a confidence in humankind, it gave me a confidence in the innate wisdom of human beings.’

Of her Oxford experience she said she was with ‘students from all around the world, but we were all the same, we were all students of this university. There is some magic that makes us feel that nothing separates us, neither religion, nor race, nor nationality … Oxford is a place of tremendous broadmindedness … every human being is expected to have a value and a dignity.’

She said that the ‘saddest thing in Burma over the last decades is the lack of campus life for university students … university life has been shattered … I would like to see university life restored to Burma in all its glory and I would be so grateful if my old university, the University of Oxford, could help to bring this about.’ Students in Burma should be ‘confident they will be able to do their best for the world … in the belief that the world also wants to do the best for them,’ she added.

Looking at the prospects for Burma, she predicted that it would not be a ‘smooth road’ but ‘a road that we will have to carve out for ourselves; this is a road that we will have to build as we go along … too many people are expecting too much from Burma at this moment … this road is there in our hearts and minds but not actually there yet … we will need your help, and the help of others all around the world, to make sure that it leads to where we want our country to go.’

The other honorands were Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former Director General of the Security Service; author David Cornwell (aka John le Carré); the President of Harvard University, Professor Drew Faust; Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman of Sony Corporation; Professor Charles Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at McGill University; Dr Henry Barnett, former President and Scientific Director of the Robarts Research Institute; and physicist Professor William Phillips of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said: ‘We were honoured to welcome Aung San Suu Kyi back to the University of Oxford, her alma mater, after so many years. The University awarded her an honorary degree in 1993, and for her to finally be able to collect it is a momentous occasion both for us and for her.

‘She is returning to a city and university that was her home for several formative years; we have the honour of welcoming an alumna who is one of the great figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.’

Daw Suu arrived in Oxford yesterday on her 67th birthday. She stayed at St Hugh’s, the college where she studied as an undergraduate, where a private party was held for friends and family complete with birthday cake.

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New video of “the biggest project we’ve ever had in Oxford”

A new video shows the latest building developments on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site.

The video, which can be seen on the University’s YouTube page, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the refurbishment of the Radcliffe Infirmary building and the view from the new Somerville accommodation buildings.

Professor William James, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources, said: ‘This is probably the single biggest project that we’ve ever had in Oxford and in terms of a building project it’s the largest certainly in the past 100 years.’
New Radcliffe House (formerly known as the Jericho Health Centre) will open next month on the Walton Street side of the site.
The Mathematical Institute is on course to open in September 2013 and will benefit the 10% of Oxford students who study a core element of maths as part of their degree.

The video was shot by Tom Wilkinson of the Publications and Web Office in the University’s Public Affairs Directorate.
Updates on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, including a live webcam and time lapse video, are available here.

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Is Europe in Retreat ? Peter Mandelson on the survival of the European project

Peter Mandelson lectures at Oxford University

Against the backdrop of both the UK and eurozone economies being thrown back into recession, Policy Network President, Peter Mandelson, gave the annual University of Oxford Hands lecture on Britain and the survival of the European project.

Faced with a Europe in which membership of the single currency is likely to be become the difference between Europe’s core and its periphery Britain will face a difficult choice.
Mandelson argues that a Britain that rules out ever joining the euro may be ruling out a future at the heart of the EU.

The lecture is available in the Mansfield College feed on Oxford on iTunesU:

The talks is also available online on the open web:

Transcript of the talk:

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Demography – The retreat of mortality

Professor David Coleman on Demographics

Is mortality in retreat? Professor David Coleman from Dept of Social Policy, University of Oxford, enthusiastically tackles this great question as part of his “Demographic Trends and Problems of the Modern World” lecture series. In a talk entitled ‘The retreat of mortality‘ Professor Coleman discusses the changes that have occurred over the 20th century in life expectancy and shows how we can understand the predictive data for trends in the 21st century. The key message is that society will increasingly need to cope with people living longer and longer. It’s estimated that the life expectancy of someone alive in 2080 will be around 100 !

This talk prepares the statistical background for a later lecture talking about the societal issues of an ageing population, a talk entitled ‘Old Europe’ – pensions, taxes and alternatives’.

Professor Coleman is a wonderful guide to the data that will affect all our lives and these talks are a great primer for anyone studying geography and social sciences at school or college. The series includes talks titled:

  • The ‘Second Demographic Transition’ – new forms of family
  • The retreat of mortality – 20th and 21st century trends
  • Old Europe’ – pensions, taxes and alternatives
  • International migration: guest workers, dependents, asylum and others
  • Demographic behaviour of immigrant and minority populations
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    Celebrating Shakespeare with 16 free lectures

    Today is international Shakespeare day. If you are studying his work or if you’d just like to remind yourself of why he became our greatest playwright then we have a range of free talks to inspire you.ShakespeareTry downloading our great lecture series by Emma Smith on ‘Approaching Shakespeare’. The series has now grown to include lectures on 16 of Shakespeare’s plays including some of the less commonly performed works. Latest lectures released include The Comedy of Errors, Richard III and The Tempest. If you have an Apple ipad then you’ll have the option of downloading the related play as an ebook to your device.

    Shakespeare podcasts from Oxford:

    • Emma Smith’s Approaching Shakespeare’ lectures on Oxford on iTunesU or the podcasting web portal.
    • 10 minute talks from the Great Writers series including a great talk by Professor Tiffany Stern explaining how Shakespeare wrote with particular actors in mind.
    • Shakespeare and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Professor Charlotte Brewer introduces in this podcast the methodology behind the creation of the OED and how current activity to update the Dictionary may reveal new evidence about Shakespeare’s impact on the English Language.

    To see the full set of literature lectures available, if you have iTunes on your computer already click here to visit Oxford’s site or click here to visit Oxford’s web portal.

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    Richard Dawkins and Archbishop of Canterbury discuss the nature of human beings and their ultimate origin

    Dawkins and ArchbishopProfessor Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury discussed the nature and origin of human beings in a dialogue event at the Sheldonian Theatre on Thursday 23rd February 2012.

    Professor Dawkins and Dr Rowan Williams spoke alongside philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny at the event, which was hosted by Sophia Europa of Oxford University’s Theology Faculty, in the presence of Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University of Oxford. This key philosophical debate was watched by over a thousand people within Oxford and streamed live to thousands on the internet. The full conversation is now available on the podcasts web page or alternatively for those who wish to download to their ipod, via Oxford on iTunes U.

    An overview web page with a choice of audio or video :

    A direct web link to the video:

    Direct link to Oxford on iTunes U page for download to iTunes and/or ipod:

    Further information:
    Origins of Nature (event website):
    Faculty of Theology:

    Archbishop of Canterbury:
    Professor Richard Dawkins:

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    Romantic ideals, sexual attraction, platonic love, marriage but no divorce

    Romantic ideals, sexual attraction, platonic love, marriage – can the secrets of love be revealed by Oxford researchers on Valentine’s day?

    In this series of short talks from February 14th 2011, Oxford academics tackled the great questions on ‘Love – and other things’.

    • How do we find love online? – Dr. Bernie Hogan
    • If marriage is a trade, then what price romance?’ – Dr. Sos Eltis
    • Who did Plato (not) love?’ – Dr. Cressida Ryan
    • How did Jonathan Swift use an elaborate combination of language and code to tease his reader? – Dr. Abigail Williams

    Enjoy the Love and other things trailer!

    and why not subscribe in advance to the free podcast feed and listen to more from the series Oxford Abridged, including:

    • What role do pheromones play in sexual attraction? – Dr. Tristram Wyatt
    • Darwin and Friends – how many friends can you really have? – Prof. Robin Dunbar

    Subscribe to the series in advance on Oxford on iTunesU: or via the web site

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    Great Writers Series – Be Inspired !

    The audio and video recordings which were captured at our Be inspired event are now live These inspirational short talks by Oxford academics form the basis of content collections for the Great Writers Inspire project website, but we didn’t want you to wait until that was ready so they are freely available via Oxford’s podcasting portal and iTunesU. With talks on a diverse range of writers from early English to post-colonial; the Beowulf poet, William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Stephen Duck, William Blake, George Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, Olive Schreiner and J.M. Coetzee, these short talks will inspire you to discover more. And of course they are all free for reuse under the terms of our Creative Commons licence.

    More talks and ebooks will be added in March !


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