About the 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES –Supercharged: Fuelling the future

The 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES will describe something invisible that drives everything around us, from our bodies to mobile phones, from aeroplanes to all the stars in the universe… ENERGY.

Professor Saiful Islam | Image: Paul Wilkinson

Professor Saiful Islam | Image: Paul Wilkinson

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just transforms from one form to another – the challenge is whether we can harness and use it for our own purposes when it changes from one form to another. The three Lectures will take us on an incredible journey through these powerful transformations to inspire the next-generation of scientists.

In each lecture, Professor Saiful Islam will face a big question – what is energy and where does it come from, how can we best make use of it, and how can we store energy to use later on? Along the way we will learn about the energy that powers our homes, the energy that powers our cars and see how the most important machine of them all, the human body, compares to all the gadgets we carry around with us.

While Saiful will have access to amazing cutting-edge technology, it will quickly become clear that we are a long way from meeting the energy demands of the future. The real solutions and great breakthroughs will come from tomorrow’s researchers, quite possibly the young people watching the Lectures.

This year celebrates the 80th anniversary of the BBC first broadcast o f the CHRISTMAS LECTURES on TV. To help mark this occasion, Saiful is joined by former Christmas Lecturers on stage, and repeats and re-imagines some of the most famous experiments and demonstrations.

For more information on this year’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES, visit the Ri site.

Thank you to the 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES major supporter, Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

Lecture 1 – Let there be light!

Broadcast: 8pm, 26th December

This year marks the 80th anniversary since the BBC first broadcast the Christmas Lectures on TV. To celebrate, chemist Professor Saiful Islam explores a subject that the lectures’ founder – Michael Faraday – addressed in the very first Christmas Lectures – energy. In his first lecture, Saiful investigates one of the most important challenges facing humankind – how to generate energy without destroying the planet in the process.

Saiful begins his lecture by being plunged into darkness. Armed initially with nothing but a single candle, his challenge is to go back to first principles and bring back the power in the energy-hungry lecture theatre. Along the way he explains what energy is, how we can transform it from one form to another, and how we harness it to power the modern world.

A fascinating and stimulating celebration of the stuff that quite literally makes the universe tick –- the weird and wonderful world of energy.

Lecture 2 – People Power

Broadcast: 8pm, 27th December

In his second Royal Institution Christmas Lecture, chemist Saiful Islam continues his exploration of one of the most important questions facing humankind – how to generate and use energy. In this lecture he investigates how humans as living pulsing machines actually use energy, asking whether it’s possible to ‘supercharge’ the human body and increase its performance.

Live experiments explore everything from the explosive potential of everyday foods, to what we put into our bodies (and what comes out!), as well as how we measure up to the machines we use every day. Saiful even experiments on himself, showing images captured inside his own stomach.

Every single one of us is an incredibly sophisticated energy conversion machine, finely tuned over millions of years of evolution. So will we ever be able to improve the human body’s performance? Can we ever do more with less energy?

Lecture 3 – Fully Charged

Broadcast: 8pm, 28th December

In this year’s final Royal Institution Christmas Lecture, chemist Saiful Islam explores of one of the most important issues facing the modern world – how to store energy. Over the course of the lecture, he tackles his toughest challenge yet: trying to work out how to store enough energy to power a mobile phone for a whole year and still fit it in his pocket! With the UK generating nearly twenty times as much energy today as it did 80 years ago, finding better ways to store it is vital for all of our futures.

Live experiments include an attempt to break the world-record for the most powerful battery made of lemons and a clear-eyed look at the most energy-packed fuel in the world – hydrogen. Along the way he’ll investigate the chemistry of batteries and tell us what the future of energy has in store for us.