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Paul Davies: The Demon in the Machine

13 August 2019
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEST
Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney
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science explosion graphic with galaxy stars

Despite stunning advances in biology, we still don’t know what life is or how it really began.

For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life on every level has proven magical and even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it.

Based on research from his new book The Demon in the Machine, theoretical physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, argues that the answer is at last in sight. In this penetrating and wide-ranging new analysis, bestselling author Davies from the Beyond Center at Arizona State University proposes answers in a domain where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology intersect.

From life’s murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells in our bodies, Davies will explain transformations in technology and medicine, the physics of two-headed worms, and answer the age-old question of whether or not we are alone in the universe.

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and is supported by the Bendigo Writers Festival.


This talk is part of the program of events UNSW Sydney is presenting for the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week.

UNSW x Sydney Science Festival includes talks, tours and events that will reveal the science that blows your mind – from an unexpected method to measure dark matter to the feminist history of the internet. See the full program.


Wheelchair Accessible

Leighton Hall is located inside the John Niland Scientia Building at UNSW Sydney's Kensington campus, G19 on this map (PDF). If you are traveling via the University Mall, there is a lift to the right of the large set of steps at the John Niland Scientia Building. There is ramp access to Leighton Hall via the Scientia Lawn. You can be dropped off close to this ramp. Vehicles need to arrive via Botany street, Gate 11 and drive down Library Walk. The closest accessible parking is available in the Barker Street Parking Station (N18 on map). 

Hearing Loop Available


The Centre for Ideas can provide Auslan interpreting services for selected talks upon request. 


To discuss your access requirements and to book selected access services, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9385 1000 or email

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9385 1000. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9385 1000. Internet relay users, visit, then ask for 02 9385 1000.

Paul Davies Portrait

Paul Davies

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and bestselling author. He is Regents’ Professor and Director of the Beyond Center at Arizona State University. His research has ranged from the origin of the universe to the origin of life, the nature of time, astrobiology and the deep evolutionary roots of cancer. The author of 30 books, his latest is The Demon in the Machine, an explanation for living matter based on information theory. Among his many awards are the 1995 Templeton Prize, the Faraday Prize from The Royal Society, the Kelvin Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics, the Robinson Cosmology Prize and the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. He was made a member of the Order of Australia in the 2007 Queen's birthday honours list and the asteroid 6870 Pauldavies is named after him.