Aftermath of Newhaven: six hours of engaging , explaining and entertaining was straining.
The Magic Lingers On
After the Pocket Science tour, with its electrostatic tricks, the magic lingers on, but not from the tricks: it's the electrostatics: the magic of electrostatics keeps on holding the Universe together, luckily for us.
The show was advertised for children, and they were gobsmacked – excellent! – but we were almost more excited about the excitement, disbelief and amazement on the faces of their parents. Why do I mention this? Because the children looked at their eager parents and assumed that this is the right attitude to take to science. “They are amazed, therefore science must be amazing”.
This is basic imprinting, and it works, and it will work on those young people for the rest of their lives. They will listen harder to science news, learn to understand science topics, take part in science debates, influence science policy, and make informed decisions about their life.
Here are some pictures of the week, with the tour team: Iain Barnett, Isabel Chenciner, Lorcan Bevan, Jonathan Hare, Kieran Kennedy, Richard Robinson, Chris West and Liz West
The theme for 2018 will be Frankenstein, because it’s the 200th anniversary of the book’s publication. Avoiding it will be impossible, engaging with it will be irresistible. And it’s very handy for us because Frankenstein uses the same magic as our Harry Potter tricks: electrostatics. Frankenstein's creator, Mary Shelley had heard of the experiments of Luigi Galvani, who used the new discoveries in electricity to make a dead frog's leg twitch, just like we make our pieces of paper napkin twitch. She was worried about such artificial life then, as we are about artificial intelligence now. Mary's gothic world was full of spooky tales of carriages being driven by zombies. Our world has driverless cars to scare the pants off us.
Galvani's equipment (below) was complicated to build and complex to use. We can do the same today with stuff we find lying around us. It's hard to realise what a sensation that twitching leg created. And of course it led to the modern electric age. Whenever you read a newsletter like this – a product of the electronic revolution – spare a thought for the frog who kicked it all off, literally.