How To Transform the Sciences: Six Potential Breakthroughs

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How To Transform the Sciences: Six Potential Breakthroughs

Dr Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, takes you to the frontiers of scientific possibility, with live Q&A

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  • 87 days 2 hours
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How To Transform the Sciences: Six Potential Breakthroughs

This series of six new talks by Rupert Sheldrake will take you on a series of scientific adventures, opening unexpected vistas of experimentally testable possibility, enlarging your imagination and expanding your understanding of nature. Each talk will give you much to discuss with your friends, and if you would like to participate in leading-edge research yourself, Rupert suggests several potentially fruitful lines of enquiry that could be done as student projects, or by groups of citizen scientists.

You will learn about:

  • the invisible connections between animals and their homes and a hitherto unrecognized sense of direction, shared not only by migrating animals and homing pigeons, but also by dogs and cats.
  • the fields within and around human bodies that persist even when a limb or other organ has been lost, as revealed byamputees' experience of phantom limbs.
  • ways in which scientists inadvertently bias their results in accordance wth their hopes and expectations, including possible mind-over-matter effects on their experiments.
  • the memory inherent in nature through morphic resonance, and ways in which it can be tested in new materials, in animals learning and through popular word puzzles like Wordle.
  • the nature of cellular senescence and rejuvenation, and a new insight into the way in which cancer cells hijack the ability of embryonic stem cells to evade the ageing process.
  • our strange ability to feel the future, as revealed by most people's ability to wake soon before an alarm goes off, and made highly profitable by successful day traders whose intuitions earn them millions of dollars.

These talks are each 35-45 minutes long, and the series ends with a live Q&A session. They will be released online on Thursdays at two-week intervals, and can thereafter be seen at any time. Participants will also recieve free links to relevant chapters from Rupert Sheldrake’s books, as well as technical articles and reviews from scientific journals..

People who join the course after it has started will have access to recordings of all previous sessions when they register. Recordings of all sessions will remain available until March 1, 2023.


  1. October 20: How do birds navigate and pigeons home?
  2. November 3 : The nature of phantom limbs: Are they in brains, or where they seem to be?
  3. November 17: The reproducibility crisis in the sciences: How do expectations influence results?
  4. December 1: How can morphic resonance be detected? New tests in physics, biology and psychology.
  5. December 15: Cellular rejuvenation and the secret of immortality: How do some cancers acquire eternal youth?
  6. December 29: Feeling the future: Waking before alarms and making millions through day trading
  7. January 14, Saturday, 6.00-7.30 pm London time: Live Q&A, moderated by Ruby Reed

More details

Rupert Sheldrake’s scientific curiosity is drawn to areas of research where very little is known, but which have the potential for opening up whole new fields of enquiry. Questions that are neglected because they do not fit in with the prevailing orthodoxies are often the most fruitful, because they open hidden doorways into new realms of the sciences. Taken together they can lead us ino a more holistic, interconnected vision of nature. In this series of talks Rupert discusses six open questions that have occupied and preoccupied him for many years, and suggests how they could be answered by new experiments, most of which are inexpensive. Some could be student or citizen science projects, and all could help overcome the ‘innovation deficit’ within scientific institutions. The rate of innovation has slowed down in recent decades, despite ever-increasing levels of funding. These talks point towards breakthoughs. After the series has ended, Rupert will be happy to discuss possible experiments with individuals or groups interested in doing or funding them. The first of these talks, on bird navigation and homing pigeons, was a keynote lecture at the Orkney International Science Festival in September, 2022. The others are completely new.

The talk on bird navigation includes some footage that has never been shown before from an experiment with homing pigeons carried out at sea. This project took place as a result of a discussion between Rupert and Oliver Sacks, a well-known neurologist and author, Stephen Jay Gould, an evolutionary biologist, Daniel Dennett, a philosopher and Freeman Dyson, a physicist, as part of a TV series called “A Glorious Accident” made for Dutch TV in 1993, and also shown in the US on PBS. This discussion stirred up an intense debate in the Netherlands, as a result of which the Royal Dutch Navy set up an unprecedented experiment to find out whether pigeons could home to a moving ship. They did. In one case a bird found the moving ship from 300 miles away. You can see this seminal discussion here.

Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, is a biologist and author of more than a hundred technical papers and nine books, including The Science Delusion (called Science Set Free in the US). He was among the top 100 global thought leaders for 2013, as ranked by Switzerland's leading think tank, the Duttweiler Institute. He studied at Cambridge and Harvard Universities. As a fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, he was Director of Studies in Cell Biology, and was also a research fellow of the Royal Society. He worked at the University of Malaya on tropical ferns, and in Hyderabad, India, as Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). In India, he also lived for two years in the ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths in Tamil Nadu. From 2005-2010, he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project for the study of unexplained human and animal abilities, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is currently a fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California and of Schumacher College in Dartington, England. He lives in London and is married to Jill Purce, with whom he has two sons, Merlin, a mycologist and author of the bestselling book Entangled Life, and Cosmo, a musician. For more details see his website and his YouTube channel.