The talk, ‘Supercharged: a humanist journey with green energy (batteries included)’ was presented using 3D glasses for the audience, and gave insights into how his research on battery materials for electric cars lead to presenting the BBC’s 80th anniversary Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2016.
He also talked about his experience growing up in a Muslim household in north London and why he became increasingly atheist from his teenage years (despite his name!).
The event was the 2018 annual convention of Humanists UK held on June 22-24 in Newcastle. Other speakers at the convention included the BBC broadcaster Nick Ross, the biologist Adam Rutherford, the comedian Shappi Khorsandi and the former medical director of the UN, Michael Irwin.
Saiful said: “This convention was very different from my usual science conferences. Here I talked about my personal history as well as the RI Christmas Lectures mentioning the guest appearance of Richard Dawkins and the world record battery made of over 1,000 lemons!
“I also enjoyed using 3D images to illustrate the crystal structures of materials, and to show that chemistry can reveal the beauty of matter at the atomic level, which can be as visually aesthetic as the arts.”
Professor Islam became a Patron of Humanists UK in 2016. Other patrons include Stephen Fry, Polly Toynbee, Philip Pullman, Sandi Toksvig and Roger Penrose.
Read more about Professor Saiful on his website.