Department of Chemistry

Professor Saiful Islam to present 2016 Christmas Lectures

Thu Aug 25 11:25:00 BST 2016

Professor Saiful Islam will present the 2016 Christmas Lectures on BBC Four. The series, called ‘Supercharged: Fuelling the Future’, will focus on energy as its scientific theme. The Christmas Lectures are the world’s oldest televised science series. 

Saiful-Christmas-LecturesSaiful said: “To be the Christmas Lecturer for this 80th anniversary year is a huge honour. I’m excited that our celebration of energy offers a wonderful opportunity to explain how current cutting-edge research on clean energy technologies is founded on the Royal Institution’s rich heritage of discovery by greats such as Michael Faraday. And I’m also looking forward to recreating some memorable moments from previous lectures with the help of some very special guests.”

Image credit: Paul Wilkinson

Commemorative Series

In this year’s commemorative series, demonstrations will be inspired by classic television moments from past Lectures which include Sir David Attenborough’s ‘The Language of Animals’ from 1973, George Porter’s ‘The Natural History of a Sunbeam’ from 1976, Nancy Rothwell’s ‘Staying Alive’ from 1998, Peter Wothers’s ‘The Modern Alchemist’ from 2012 and Danielle George’s ‘Sparks will fly’ from 2014. 

Saiful will be joined on stage by a host of very special guests from past Christmas Lecturers. Over three demonstration-packed shows, he will take us on a journey through scientific history, starting by recreating Michael Faraday’s famous 19th century experiments in spectacular 21st century style, and ending by exploring his own cutting-edge area of expertise – the materials needed to create next-generation clean energy devices such as lithium batteries, solar cells and hydrogen fuel cells.

He will close the 2016 series by looking to the future and challenging the young audience to answer one of the biggest questions facing society today – how can we generate the vast amount of energy our modern society needs and still protect our planet for the benefit of future generations?

Celebrating Faraday

The topic of ‘energy’ was chosen to celebrate the life and work of Michael Faraday, one of the UK and Royal Institution’s most significant scientific figures, whose belief in the value of science education for children led to the first Christmas Lectures in 1825. Faraday went on to present 19 series.

Gail Cardew, Professor of Science, Culture and Society at the Royal Institution, said: “Saiful has two qualities that make him a perfect choice for this celebratory year: like Faraday he understands the importance of igniting a passion for science in young people, and his research carries forward the incredible legacy of Faraday’s discoveries into the 21st century.”

Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four said: “The Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution are a much loved part of the BBC’s Christmas schedule and how better to celebrate their anniversary than with this very special series of lectures from Saiful Islam exploring the extraordinary world of energy. With classic moments from the past 80 years and some very special guests, as well as a look ahead at cutting edge research, these lectures promise to be a real treat.”

The 2016 Christmas Lectures will be filmed in the Royal Institution’s iconic theatre on 10, 13 and 15 December 2016. Tickets to the filming are available by a ballot in September open to members and patrons of the Royal Institution and UK registered schools only.

Visit The Royal Institution website to find out how to join and apply for tickets.