Saturday, 1 January 2011

Scientific Christmas

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The Royal Institutes annual Christmas science lectures is one of the highlights of the scientific calendar. The institute itself was founded in 1799 with the aim to introduce science to the general public, the Christmas lectures began in 1825 and was initiated by Michael Faraday 1. The lecturers have become increasingly popular ever since.  It is a platform for a variety of scientific topics to be addressed, often presented by famous or well renowned scientists, like David Attenborough.

The institute approaches the education of the public in a fun and interactive way, getting young people actively involved with science in a variety of ways. As well as the Christmas lectures they also boast an impressive museum and young scientist centre 2.

This years Christmas science lectures explores the topic of Size Matters 3,4,5, covering a wide range of angles and everyone has something to learn from such a charismatic and knowledgeable presenter. The lecture is kept very lively, with audience participation and active problem solving to investigate why size matters and how changes is size can influence the way the objects interact. It is interesting how you often have to leave your ‘common sense’ behind and not rely on your past experiences when considering objects on different scales and how they interact, as the principles governing there interactions are very different. This was demonstrated in a variety of ways, including how Velcro works at its current size, but if you try and scale it up then it will no longer function.

The Christmas lecture is powerful because it brings science to the living room of people across the country and often across the world, together exploring the topics being presented and learning some science which is practical to everyday life, hopefully igniting a passion for the sciences in both the young and older generations alike.

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