We are the outcome of a process taking nearly 14 billion years during which atoms, stars, planets and biospheres emerged from a hot dense 'big bang'. The details of this process are sensitive to a few important numbers -- the so-called 'constants' of physics. In this illustrated lecture Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, will discuss the key stages in this process, and then address two questions: What would our cosmos be like if the key numbers were different? And could a huge variety of other 'universes' exist as part of physical reality, each the aftermath of a different 'big bang'?
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This event forms part of the 2014 Cambridge Science Festival. This public talk has been organised to accompany an academic conference on the philosophy of cosmology.