Speaker Christof Koch (Professor of Biology and Engineering at the California Institute of Technology) - whilst not quite taking us down to the level of ‘science for dummies’ - certainly managed to make the concept of consciousness more accessible on a ground level and to a wider audience. This is a lecture intended to further the public understanding of science, after all. Koch was an enjoyable speaker; humorous, light-hearted yet delivering high quality content to please laymen and academics alike. An amiable and self-deprecating extreme sports addict, his energy and enthusiasm for his subject helped keep the audience interested during the ‘science bits’ and his use of contemporary celebrities kept the findings relevant and understandable. Descriptions of how subjects responded to images of Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Marilyn Monroe made the process of measuring consciousness seem simpler and more accessible.
The talk was an excellent way of communicating a previously philosophical subject and explaining how it is now considered more of a scientific theory, there being increasing ongoing scientific research building up a body of evidence to back up the theories of what consciousness is. Overall, the talk was kept simple enough for the general public to understand while being scientific enough to please the academics in the audience (a skill not available to every lecturer!). I thoroughly support the notion of making academic (and particularly, scientific) knowledge more accessible, though I wouldn't recommend this lecture for children as it was pitched at an adult level. Sixth-formers up to first-year students would no doubt have found it an interesting addition to their curriculum.