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Speaker - Dr Jack Cohen

Sent in by John Axtell.

Jack Cohen - Speaker Dr Jack Cohen

Jack Cohen is an internationally-known reproductive biologist, who consulted for test-tube-baby and other infertility laboratories, and has worked in Assisted Conception Units. He was reproductive biologist in the Zoology Department at Birmingham University for some thirty years, later in Warwick Maths Institute for five - he denies being a mathematician, despite having been made an Honorary Professor in that Institute. His last position, at Warwick University, bridged the Ecosystems Unit of the Biology Department and the Mathematics Institute, and his brief included bringing more science to more public awareness - which he still attempts.

He has published about 120 research papers. His latest, on Sex, diploidy and the human Y chromosome, has appeared in Systematics and Biodiversity 2 1-7 (CUP).

His books include Living Embryos (Pergamon, 1963, 1967, 1980), a classic textbook that sold more than 100,000 copies; Reproduction (Butterworth's); Spermatozoa, Antibodies and Infertility (Blackwell); and The Privileged Ape (Parthenon), a rather different look at human evolution.

He now works with the mathematician Ian Stewart (Does God Play Dice? and the 1997-8 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures) with whom he has explored issues of complexity, chaos and simplicity. Their first joint book, The Collapse of Chaos, was published by Viking/Penguin ('94, re-issued 2000), and their Figments of Reality: the evolution of the curious mind (Cambridge University Press) was published in '97. Both authors cooperated with Terry Pratchett in The Science of Discworld (Ebury), and its sequel The Science of Discworld 2: The Globe (Ebury). the third The Science of Discworld: Darwin’s watch has just appeared. They have also produced a science-fiction novel, Wheelers (Warner-Aspect) which was chosen as November 2000's monthly choice by the SFBC, and did well in the US and the UK (Simon&Schuster). A sequel, Heaven, has been published by Warner-Aspect, and a prequel is in preparation. Evolving the Alien (Ebury), with Ian Stewart, about the real biology of alien life, was published in 2002. (It is called What Does a Martian Look Like; the science of extra-terrestrial life by Wiley in the US. The Ebury UK paperback also has that title.) The Science Museum in London is putting on an "Aliens" Exhibition, October 2005, based in these books. The third science book, The Appearance of Design, with Stewart, is in preparation, signed up for Penguin. Stop Working and Start Thinking: how to become a scientist (with Graham Medley, epidemiologist and statistician) was published in 2000, and the second edition was published by Taylor & Francis in June '05.

He acts as a consultant to top science fiction authors (e.g. McCaffrey, Gerrold, Harrison, Niven, Pratchett) designing alien creatures and ecologies. He is frequently heard on BBC radio programmes, and has initiated and participated in the production of several TV programmes, e.g. BBC Horizon: Genesis; ITV Science: Take Another Look; Channel 4: Reality on the Rocks; BBC Channel 2: Fancy Fish (for which he did much of the filming, especially time-lapse microscopy); and for BBC2 on the 1997 Mars week-end: The Natural History of an Alien. More are in preparation.

His hobbies include boomerang throwing and keeping strange animals (from hydras to mantis shrimps, and octopi to llamas).

Date Talk at GAS meeting
5 Jun 2008 Four Invented Planets - a god's eye view
See Jack's presentation here [ZIP: 1.13Mb, Members only].
2 Dec 2004 Aliens, more than biology

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