Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship


Scholars' Library: Jeremy England on 'Every Life Is on Fire'

Scholars' Library: Jeremy England on 'Every Life Is on Fire'

29 November 2023

17:00 - 18:00 (GMT+00:00)

Online Platform


Join Jeremy England (New Hampshire & St John's 2003) for a conversation on: his book 'Every Life is on Fire'

This event is free and open to the public.

For our November Scholars’ Library, Jeremy England (New Hampshire & St John's 2003) will discuss his book Every Life is on Fire. In conversation, with Samantha O'Sullivan (Maryland/DC & Magdalen 2022) amongst other topics, Jeremy will talk about thermodynamics and the origins of life, and if science can help us find purpose in the universe, and intersections between ideas from Torah and from science.

Why are we alive? Most things in the universe aren’t. And everything that is alive traces back to things that, puzzlingly, weren’t.

For centuries, the scientific question of life’s origins has confounded us. But in Every Life Is on Fire, physicist Jeremy England argues that the answer has been under our noses the whole time, deep within the laws of thermodynamics. England explains how, counterintuitively, the very same forces that tend to tear things apart assembled the first living systems.

But how life began isn’t just a scientific question. We ask it because we want to know what it really means to be alive. So England, an ordained rabbi, uses his theory to examine how, if at all, science helps us find purpose in a vast and mysterious universe.

In the tradition of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, Every Life Is on Fire is a profound testament to how something can come from nothing.

You can obtain a copy of Every Life is on Fire here.

Jeremy England (New Hampshire & St John's 2003) is a theoretical physicist who got his start in the Boston-area but now lives with his family in the Land of Israel. A native of New England, he received his technical training at Harvard (bachelors summa cum laude in biochemical sciences), Oxford and Stanford (PhD in physics while on a Hertz fellowship). He has been a visiting scientist at the Weizmann Institute, a lecturer and research fellow at Princeton, and until 2019 he was an associate professor in the physics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Now a Visiting Professor of Physics at Bar-Ilan University and Vice President in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at GlaxoSmithKline, Jeremy conducts both basic research on the origins of life and applied research in the area of precision medicine. As a scientist who has also received orthodox rabbinical ordination, Jeremy is keenly interested in the intersection between ideas from Torah and from science. He is author of a book about both topics titled Every Life Is On Fire.

Samantha O’Sullivan (Maryland/DC & Magdalen 2022) is a Rhodes scholar-in-residence reading for a DPhil in Theoretical Physics. Sam graduated cum laude from Harvard with a A.B. in Physics and African American Studies and wrote her senior thesis at the intersection on the topic multilingual science communication. In the Louis Group at Oxford, Sam’s research applies algorithmic information theory to the evolution of biological systems. Sam is deeply curious about the intersections of physics and theology.


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Q & A:

Please feel free to submit any questions in advance to or you can use the chat function within Zoom to ask questions directly during the live event.

There is no cost to attend this event, and we hope that all will join us! If you would like to support The Rhodes Trust, please consider giving time through volunteering, or giving a gift to the Scholars Fund. If you are interested in our volunteering opportunities, they can be found on our website.

ALT TEXT: A light blue background within which says 'Scholars' Library series' in a bolder, darker blue. There is the Rhodes 'R' and inside of that there is a shelf of books of various colours.

Part of the Lifelong Fellowship portfolio, The Scholars’ Library is a monthly book talk series, where Rhodes alumni can come together to present, discover and debate their literary works. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to Georgie Thurston at