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Peter Atkins

Peter Atkins is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, Fellow of Lincoln College. He is the author of nearly sixty books, including Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science; Four Laws that Drive the Universe; and the world-renowned textbook Physical Chemistry. He has been a visiting professor in France, Israel, New Zealand, China, and Japan, and continues to lecture widely throughout the world.

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Jerry Coyne

Jerry Coyne is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where he works on diverse areas of evolutionary genetics. The main focus of his laboratory is on the original problem raised by Darwin — the origin of species — and on understanding this process through the genetic patterns it produces. He has authored over one hundred scientific papers and regularly writes essays and opinion pieces for the popular press, including The Guardian, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, and The Time Literary Supplement. He is the author (with H. Allen Orr) of Speciation. Mr. Coyne was elected to the American Academy of Sciences in 2007. He is the author of Why Evolution Is True.

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Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins was voted Britain’s leading public intellectual by readers of Prospect magazine and was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” for 2007. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Science. Among his books are The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil’s Chaplain, The Ancestor’s Tale, and the New York Times best seller The God Delusion.

Daniel C. Dennett's photo

Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Breaking the Spell, Freedom Evolves, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Consciousness Explained, and many other books. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987.

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Brent Forrester

Brent Forrester is an Emmy Award-winning television writer. He has written for The Ben Stiller Show, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Office.

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Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais is a writer, director, producer, author, actor, stand up comedian and graduate of University College London where he studied Philosophy. He is the creator of The OfficeExtrasAn Idiot AbroadThe Ricky Gervais Show and Life’s Too Short and has written, directed and starred in Hollywood movies such as The Invention of LyingCemetery JunctionGhost TownStardust and Night at The Museum. He has won numerous international awards for his work including three Golden Globes, two Primetime Emmys and seven BAFTA’s. He holds the world record for the most downloaded internet show, and the fastest selling stand up tour of all time. He is a keen animal welfare campaigner, active supporter of animal rights and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. In 2010 he was named in ‘Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People In The World’, awarded the ‘Sir Peter Ustinov Comedy Award’ from the Banff World Television Festival and ‘The Rose d’Or’ for ‘exceptional contribution to the global entertainment business’.

Rebecca Goldstein's photo

Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein is a philosopher and novelist. She is the author of eight books, including, The Mind-Body Problem, Properties of Light, Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, and Betraying Spinoza. In 1996 Goldstein received a MacArthur Fellowship (popularly known as the “Genius Award”). In 2005 she was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 2006 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Radcliffe Fellowship. Goldstein holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University.

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Anthony Grayling

Anthony Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. He has written and edited many books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are a biography of William Hazlitt and a collection of essays. For several years he wrote the “Last Word” column for the Guardian and is a regular reviewer for the Times Literary Review and the Financial Times. He also often writes for the Observer, Economist, Times Literary Supplement, Independent on Sunday and New Statesman, and is a frequent broadcaster on BBC Radios 4, 3 and the World Service. He is the Editor of Online Review London, Contributing Editor of Prospect magazine. Anthony Grayling is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum, and a member of its C-100 group on relations between the West and the Islamic world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2003 was a Booker Prize judge.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's photo

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” and Reader’s Digest’s European of the Year for 2005. She is the author of The Caged Virgin and the New York Times best selling memoir Infidel. Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia where she escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992. She later served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. Ms. Hirsi Ali continues to speak and write about the importance of freedom of speech, the need to reform Islam, and the rights of women. She is the founder and CEO of the AHA Foundation.

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Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was an author, journalist, and literary critic. He regularly wrote for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate, The New York Times Book Review, Free Inquiry, and a variety of other journals. He was the author of the #1 New York Times best seller God is Not Great (a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award). He also wrote Why Orwell Matters, Letter to a Young Contrarian, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, and many other books. In 2005 Mr. Hitchens was named one of the world’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines. He is deeply missed.

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Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence M. Krauss is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Departments, Associate Director of the Beyond Center, Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative and Director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University, which will explore questions ranging from the origin of the Universe to the origins of human culture and cognition.  The author of 7 popular books including international bestseller, The Physics of Star Trek, and the award winning, Atom, and his newest book, Hiding in the Mirror: The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions from Plato to String Theory and Beyond, Krauss is also a radio commentator and essayist for newspapers such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and has written a regular biweekly column for New Scientist, and appears regularly on television, and has bridged the gap with popular culture with such activities as performing with the Cleveland Orchestra, and being a judge at the Sundance Film Festival. At the same time he is a highly regarded international leader in cosmology and astrophysics, and is the author of over 250 scientific papers and has been awarded the highest awards of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics.  He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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Harold Kroto

Harold Kroto is Chairman of the Board of the Vega Science Trust, a UK educational charity that produces science programs for television. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and in 1996 shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley for the discovery of a new form of carbon, the C60 Buckminsterfullerene. He has received the Royal Society’s prestigious Michael Faraday Award, given annually to a scientist who has done the most to further public communication of science, engineering or technology in the United Kingdom.

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Janna Levin

Janna Levin is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. Her scientific research concerns the Early Universe, Chaos, and Black Holes. Her second book – a novel, “A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines” (Knopf, 2006) – won the PEN/Bingham Fellowship for Writers that “honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work…represents distinguished literary achievement…” It was also a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award for “a distinguished book of first fiction”. She is the author of the popular science book, “How the Universe Got Its Spots: diary of a finite time in a finite space”. She holds a BA in Physics and Astronomy from Barnard College with a concentration in Philosophy, and a PhD from MIT in Physics. She has worked at the Center for Particle Astrophysics (CfPA) at the University of California, Berkeley before moving to the UK where she worked at Cambridge University in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP). She was the first scientist-in-residence at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing at Oxford with an award from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and Arts (NESTA). She has written for many artists and appeared on several radio and television programs.

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Bill Maher

Bill Maher is one of the most politically astute comedians in America today, entertaining millions through his television series “Politically Incorrect” (Comedy Central and ABC), “Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO), sold-out comedy tours, and hour-long specials on HBO. Maher is also the author of several bestselling books including, New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer. He has received numerous Emmy, Tony, and Grammy nominations for his work. Mr. Maher also wrote, produced, and starred in the documentary Religulous.

Ian McEwan's photo

Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is a writer of worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany’s Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics’ Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday.

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Dan Pallotta

Dan Pallotta is a leading expert on innovation in the nonprofit sector and a pioneering social entrepreneur. He is the founder of Pallotta TeamWorks, which invented the multiday AIDSRides and Breast Cancer 3-Days. 182,000 people participated in these events, which raised over half a billion dollars and netted $305 million in nine years - more money raised more quickly for these causes than any private event operation in history. Mr. Pallotta is the author of Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential. He is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review online where he writes about current nonprofit sector issues. He is a William J. Clinton Distinguished Lecturer, and has spoken at Wharton, Harvard Business School, Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofits, Tufts University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Milken Institute, among others. Mr. Pallotta has been written about in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, American Public Media’s Marketplace, and on numerous NPR stations, among others.

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Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and Slate, and is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, The Blank Slate, and The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. Mr. Pinker was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2004.

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Carolyn Porco

Carolyn Porco is an American planetary scientist known for her work in the exploration of the outer solar system, beginning with her imaging work on the Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the 1980s. She leads the imaging science team on the Cassini mission currently in orbit around Saturn.  She is the Director of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) in Boulder, Colorado, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado. She has coauthored over 100 scientific papers in the planetary sciences, including a suite of results on the atmosphere, satellites, and rings of Saturn from the Cassini imaging experiment. Her popular scientific writings have appeared in the Guardian, The Sunday Times (London), Astronomy, Arizona Daily Star, Sky & Telescope, American Scientist, and Scientific American.  She is the creator/editor of the CICLOPS website where Cassini images are posted for public consumption. In 1999, she was selected by The Sunday Times (London) as one of 18 scientific leaders of the 21st century. In 2008, she was chosen by Wired Magazine as one of 15 people the President of the United States should listen to. She received the Carl Sagan Medal for excellence in the communication of science to the public, presented by the American Astronomical Society in 2010. She was the character consultant on the Warner Bros. movie Contact based on the novel by Carl Sagan, and the science advisor on the 2009 Paramount Pictures film Star Trek. Asteroid Porco 7231 is named in her honor.

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Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie won the Booker Prize for Fiction for his second novel, Midnight’s Children. In 1993 the book was judged to have been the ‘Booker of Bookers’, the best novel to have won the Booker Prize for Fiction in the award’s 25-year history. Rushdie’s third novel, Shame (1983) won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize as well. The publication in 1988 of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, lead to accusations of blasphemy against Islam and demonstrations by Islamist groups in India and Pakistan. The orthodox Iranian leadership issued a fatwa against Rushdie on 14 February 1989, and he was forced into hiding under the protection of the British government and police. The Satanic Verses won the Whitbread Novel Award in 1988. Mr. Rushdie is the author of many novels and works of criticism. He is Honorary Professor in the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has received numerous awards and eight honorary doctorates. He was elected to the Board of American PEN in 2002.

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Lee M. Silver

Lee M. Silver is Professor at Princeton University in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received a doctorate in biophysics from Harvard University and trained at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He is the author of Challenging Nature: The Clash Between Biotechnology and Spirituality; Remaking Eden; and Mouse Genetics. He has published 180 articles in the fields genetics, evolution, reproduction, embryology, computer modeling, and behavioral science, and other scholarly papers on topics at the interface between biotechnology, law, ethics, and religion.

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J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his extraordinary contributions to genomic research. He is Founder and President of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, research and support organization with more than 400 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, plant and environmental genomic research, the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics, and seeking alternative energy solutions through genomics. Dr. Venter founded The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), a not-for-profit research institute, where in 1995 he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, using his new whole genome shotgun technique. Dr. Venter and his teams have now sequenced hundreds of genomes using his techniques and tools. In 1998, Dr. Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using new tools and techniques he and his team developed. The successful completion of this research culminated with the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal, Science. He and his team at Celera also sequenced the fruit fly, mouse and rat genomes. Dr. Venter and his team at the Venter Institute continue to blaze new trails in genomics research and have published numerous important papers covering such areas as the first complete diploid human genome, environmental genomics, and synthetic genomics. Dr. Venter, one of the most frequently cited scientists, is the author of more than 200 research articles and the memoir, A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life. He is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, public honors, and scientific awards. Dr. Venter is a member of numerous prestigious scientific organizations including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Venter was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2008.

Ibn Warraq

Ibn Warraq is a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry specializing in Koranic criticism. In 1996 he published the groundbreaking work, Why I am not a Muslim. He went on to edit a series of anthologies: What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary; The Quest for the Historical Muhammed; The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book; Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out; and Which Koran? Variants, Manuscripts, and the Influence of Pre-Islamic Poetry. His latest book is Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism.

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Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg holds the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of the Physics and Astronomy Departments. His research on elementary particles and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards, including in 1979 the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 1991 the National Medal of Science. In 2004 he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, with a citation that said he is “considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive in the world today.” He has been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and Britain’s Royal Society, as well as to the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of over 300 articles on elementary particle physics. His books include The First Three Minutes (1977); The Discovery of Subatomic Particles (1983, 2003); Elementary Particles and The Laws of Physics (with R.P. Feynman) (1987); Dreams of a Final Theory—The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature (1993); a trilogy, The Quantum Theory of Fields (1995, 1996, 2000); Facing Up—- Science and its Cultural Adversaries (2002); and most recently Glory and Terror—The Growing Nuclear Danger (2004). Articles of his on various subjects appear from time to time in The New York Review of Books. He has served as consultant at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the JASON group of defense consultants, and many other boards and committees.