BED BUGS AND CYBER-HUGS: X-RATED LECTURE SERIES LAUNCHES IN SHEFFIELD.

Bizzare mating rituals, human/robot intimacy, female promiscuity in animals and sperm discussed at X Lectures

Sex and reproduction explored as part of the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind
A unique series of four “X Lectures” will take place between the 18th and the 24th September, focusing on the theme of sex and reproduction both in the animal kingdom and in humans. The X Lectures form part of the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind. The 11-day long Festival of the Mind (18th- 28th September 2014) will see the University of Sheffield team its leading academics with the UK’s most famous artists and musicians in order to bring academia to the streets.

Over the course of four lectures, experts in different areas will share their knowledge with members of the public on subjects including female promiscuity in the animal kingdom, the use of technology in communicating emotion and intimacy, evolutionary explanations for harmful mating rituals, and the secret life of sperm.

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The four lectures will be given by Professor Tim Birkhead, Professor Mike Siva Jothy, and Dr Allan Pacey all from the University of Sheffield and Adrian Cheok from City University, London.

In the first lecture on Thursday September 18, Professor Mike Siva Jothy from the University of Sheffield, will explain why many animals engage in painful and sometimes fatal behaviour during mating, and how this extreme behaviour which appears to go against the animals’ self-interest can actually be explained by neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Adrian Cheok, chair Professor of Pervasive Computing at City University London, will use the second lecture of the series on Sunday September 21 to describe how we will soon experience taste, touch and smell through the internet and how “telepresence” technologies will allow us to physically interact with people anywhere in the world.

The third lecture on Monday September 22, from Professor Tim Birkhead from the University of Sheffield, will explain that promiscuous behavior among female animals is just as common as among males, meaning that sexual competition among females is equally as fierce as it is among their male counterparts, resulting in elaborate genital structures in both sexes in some species.

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In the final lecture on Wednesday September 24, Dr Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield will explore the world of sperm, telling the story of Dutchman Anton van Leeuwenhoek’s 1677 discovery of spermatozoa; the elegant processes through which fertilization occurs; the ethics of creating sperm from other cells in the body; and the economics of the international trade in supplies of sperm.

The 11-day long Festival of the Mind (18th- 28th September 2014) will see the University of Sheffield team its leading academics with the UK’s most famous artists and musicians in order to bring academia to the streets.

The X Lectures will all take place at the Festival of the Mind’s Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool, Sheffield.

Festival of the Mind will showcase ground-breaking collaborations between leading academics from the University of Sheffield and local people in the creative and cultural industries, at venues across the city.

Events take place between 18–28 September 2014. For further information and the full programme, visit: http://festivalofthemind.group.shef.ac.uk

Follow Festival of the Mind on Twitter @FestivalMind #FestivalMind or visit our Facebook page.