Wed, 1 September 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm BST


How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures

Merlin Sheldrake In Conversation With Robin Ince

Join biologist Merlin Sheldrake for a journey into a spectacular and neglected world, as he reveals how fungi provide a key to understanding both the planet on which we live, and life itself.

The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them.

Neither plant nor animal, they are found throughout the earth, the air and our bodies. They can be microscopic, yet also account for the largest organisms ever recorded. They enabled the first life on land, can survive unprotected in space and thrive amidst nuclear radiation. In fact, nearly all life relies in some way on fungi.

These endlessly surprising organisms have no brain but can solve problems and manipulate animal behaviour with devastating precision. In giving us bread, alcohol and life-saving medicines, fungi have shaped human history, and their psychedelic properties have recently been shown to alleviate a number of mental illnesses.

Their ability to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in break-through technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘Wood Wide Web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems. Yet over ninety percent of their species remain undocumented.

In this livestream event, Biologist Merlin Sheldrake and broadcaster Robin Ince take us on a mind-altering voyage into this breath-taking underground world.

Praise for Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life:

‘One of those rare books that can truly change the way you see the world around you, Entangled Life is a mercurial, revelatory, impassioned, urgent, astounding, and necessary read. It’s fearless in scope, analytically astute, and brimming with infectious joy’ Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

‘Reads like an adventure story … wondrous … beguilingly weaves together lived experience and scientific research’ John Carey, Sunday Times

‘Mind-boggling… [Sheldrake] is nothing if not a participatory researcher into his subject and one with a winning sense of humour… it might be a good time to give thanks for this humble lifeform’s effect on our lives… It’s tempting… to see fungi as the biological model for a better world’ Daily Telegraph

‘After this book, nothing will seem the same again … beautifully written and illustrated … dazzling … reveals a world that’s both more extraordinary and more delicate than could be imagined’ Mail on Sunday

‘Wondrous … an astonishing book that could alter our perceptions of fungi for ever. It seems somehow to tip the natural world upside down’ Rachel Cooke, Observer

‘Entangled Life is a special book and Merlin is, as his name suggests, a magical writer. Through his writing I feel connected to nature through a thousand invisible threads’ Russell Brand

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Merlin Sheldrake

Biologist and Writer

Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and a writer. He received a Ph.D. in Tropical Ecology from Cambridge University for his work on underground fungal networks in tropical forests in Panama, where he was a predoctoral research fellow of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He is a musician and keen fermenter.

Robin Ince

Comedian and co-host of award-winning Radio 4 science show The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Robin Ince is the co-presenter of Radio 4’s multiple award winning The Infinite Monkey Cage. He spent 2019 appearing across the world in the Universal tour with Brian Cox – travelling from LA to Oslo, Wellington to Aberdeen and ending up in Reykjavik after shows at the 02 and Wembley Arena. Robin co-wrote How to Build a Universe (part 1) with Brian Cox and his most recent book is I’m a Joke and So Are You, a book about why we become who we become and how we deal with it.