Talk on the origin of the universe goes with a bang

SCIENTIST Simon Singh appeared at Portsmouth Grammar School to talk about the Big Bang theory.      Picture: Steve Reid (112224-863)
SCIENTIST Simon Singh appeared at Portsmouth Grammar School to talk about the Big Bang theory. Picture: Steve Reid (112224-863)
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‘ALL the stuff in our bodies has been created in nuclear explosions in stars so it’s true that we are stardust. But we are also nuclear waste.’

Physicist Simon Singh was at Portsmouth Grammar School yesterday evening to speak about the Big Bang and the creation of the universe.

About 180 people came to see his speech as part of Portsmouth Festivities: Space City. Along with jokes about nuclear waste, they saw him electrocute a gherkin to prove that stars should be orange and heard that the people who discovered the universe’s background radiation originally thought they were recording pigeon droppings on a radio telescope.

Mr Singh’s visit, as part of the 11-day festival, was welcomed by members of the audience, who were able to ask him questions for 20 minutes after the speech.

Jonathan Guerin, a former Portsmouth Grammar School pupil, now 28, said: ‘The speech was really good and it’s great that we have people like Simon Singh coming to Portsmouth to share what they know with us.

‘He was funnier than I expected, and it was a very interesting evening.’

Before the speech, Mr Singh, the author of best-selling science books Fermat’s Last Theorem and Big Bang, explained to The News why he was taking part in the Festivities.

He said: ‘I was invited last year to Portsmouth and had dinner with the astronauts from Atlantis on HMS Warrior, which was an honour. Portsmouth is a centre for space research and scientific activity with the university and businesses pushing towards discoveries so I was delighted to be able to come back.

‘I wanted to talk to people about the Big Bang because it’s amazing that when I was born there wasn’t agreement on a theory for how the universe came to be.’

Portsmouth Festivities organiser James Priory said: ‘The speech was excellent. Simon’s a really nice guy and it’s been wonderful as an organiser that so many scientists have been so enthusiastic to get involved.’

Ben Stainton, 13, of Bruce Road, Southsea, said: ‘It was a really good intellectual speech. I learned a lot. It’s something I’m interested in because I’m bothered about the idea of how the universe was created, and it’s good to be able to find out more.’