Public engagement

One of the main objectives of ‘Life on the Edge’ is to reach out to the wider public and inspire the next generation of scientists. We have a full programme of outreach activities including workshops, competitions, talks and stands at science festivals to communicate this fascinating area of research to a broad audience.

Blue-Sky Thinking workshops

These workshops will bring together world-leading scientists and philosophers to discuss challenges at the frontiers of physics and present our research on the ‘arrow of time’. Members of the ‘Life on the Edge’ team, along with other high-profile names, will take part in the workshops.

We kicked off with a virtual event in July 2022, this will be followed by a two-day workshop hosted on the Surrey campus in summer 2023 and a third workshop at UCLA in spring 2024.


Some of our many outreach activities include:

‘In conversation’ events with Jim Al-Khalili

These ‘Jim meets…’ events will see Jim Al-Khalili interview a leading academic in front of a live audience and shared online. Examples of past events with high profile guests can be seen with Brian Cox and David Attenborough.

TEDx-style talks

A series of short talks, delivered by attendees of our Blue-Sky Thinking workshops, will be hosted on Surrey’s YouTube channel. Watch Jim Al-Khalili's TED talk on how quantum biology might explain life's biggest questions as a taster of what to expect.

Science festivals

We will bring ‘Life on the Edge’ to a number of science festivals in the UK and US including the Cheltenham Science Festival and Exploring Your University, UCLA’s free science festival. At these events our team will deliver educational talks, demonstrations and hands-on science challenges.

Watch the discussion at the Cheltenham Science Festival 2022

‘Big Questions’ schools competition

A competition for UK school students targeted at 16-18 year olds studying physics, maths, further maths, and computer science. Planned for the summer term of 2023, ‘Big Questions’ will challenge teams of students to submit essays, with the ten best teams invited to present their ideas to academics at the University of Oxford.

What is… series

A series of short films created by Surrey to demystify pure science, designed to engage school-aged children and the general public. These will be presented by Professor Jim Al-Khalili along with guest presenters, and hosted on YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms.