Professor Anthony Watts from the Biochemistry Department at Oxford University will present 'Carrots, Spiders & Red Salt' - a talk inspired by the fascination with light capture in biology. The event will be held in association with the Oxford & Cambridge Society, UAE. Sign up at:

From the earliest organisms on earth until the present day, light has pervaded almost every aspect of life. Evolution has developed rather few ways in which light is captured and utilised, but each of these involves an intricate combination of chemistry, physics and biology – even today some aspects are still beyond our understanding. Here, the rather well known link between the chemistry of coloured foods (carrots – do you see better if you eat them?), and vision in higher life forms will be explained in demonstrations and practical ways – volunteers needed. A tantalising and controversial link will be made between single-celled organisms that live in extreme conditions in coloured salt beds, and the human eye that perplexed Charles Darwin, so much so that he was forced to produce a second volume to the “Origin of the Species” to explain visual evolution, called "Organs of Extreme Perfection and Complication”. This public engagement seminar, in various forms, has been presented internationally to varied audiences. For this event, it will be aimed at teenagers and adults, with some hints at more in-depth explanations. No background science is needed.