Christmas Lecture (Royal Institution)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lithograph by Alexander Blaikley (1816–1903) showing Michael Faraday on December 27, 1855 at one of his Christmas lectures, which Prince Albert and Prince Alfred also attended.

The Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution ( English Royal Institution Christmas Lectures ) are since 1825 by the Royal Institution organized Christmas lecture series .

The Christmas lectures evolved from the afternoon lectures that have been held at the Royal Institution since 1800. A series of 22 lectures on natural philosophy was originally planned, aimed specifically at young listeners between the ages of 15 and 20, and taking place during Christmas, Easter and Whitsun during the free time. The first Christmas lecture was given in 1825 by John Millington (1779–1868), professor of mechanics at the Royal Institution, the second a year later by a now unknown amateur astronomer by the name of John Wallis. After a second, less successful Easter lecture, which was held in 1827 by the professor of natural history John Harwood (approx. 1794–1854), the lectures were only held at Christmas time.

The term “ Christmas Lectures ” became established in the 1850s for the series of lectures actually called “ Juvenile Lectures ” . It was finally officially used in the early 1860s.

Until the beginning of the 1860s, Michael Faraday had a major impact on the design of the Christmas lectures. From 1827 on, he was responsible for a total of 19 episodes, most of which consisted of six individual lectures. The popular Christmas lecture entitled Chemical History of a Candle ( The Chemical History of a Candle ) was kept from him the year 1860/1861. It was published in book form in 1861 and has been translated into numerous languages.

Until the 1890s, lectures were mainly given by professors from the Royal Institution, including William Thomas Brande (7 episodes), John Tyndall (12 episodes), James Dewar (9 episodes), Edward Frankland , William Odling and John Hall Gladstone .

On December 29, 1927, shortly after Edward Andrade's Christmas lecture, the institute's own transformer station exploded, but nobody was harmed. The lecture hall, which had held an audience of one thousand, was then rebuilt. Today it can accommodate around 430 listeners.

In the late 1950s, the Royal Institution wanted to make its work better known. Therefore, in 1959 Lawrence Bragg produced a series of six 15-minute television programs entitled The Nature of Things , the broadcast of which reached about four million viewers and was considered a great success. The regular television broadcast of the Christmas lectures began in 1966/67 with Eric Laithwaite's The Engineer in Wonderland on BBC2 .

List of Christmas Lectures

year Lecturer Title of the lecture
1825 John Millington Natural Philosophy
1826 John Wallis Astronomy
1827 Michael Faraday Chemistry
1828 J. Wood Architecture
1829 Michael Faraday Electricity
1830 Thomas Webster Geology
1831 James Rennie Zoology
1832 Michael Faraday Chemistry
1833 John Lindley Botany
1834 William Thomas Brande Chemistry
1835 Michael Faraday Electricity
1836 William Thomas Brande Chemistry of the Gases
1837 Michael Faraday Chemistry
1838 John Wallis Astronomy
1839 William Thomas Brande The Chemistry of the Atmosphere and the Ocean
1840 John Frederic Daniell The First Principles of Franklinic Electricity
1841 Michael Faraday The Rudiments of Chemistry
1842 William Thomas Brande The Chemistry of the Non-Metallic Elements
1843 Michael Faraday First Principles of Electricity
1844 William Thomas Brande The Chemistry of the Gases
1845 Michael Faraday The Rudiments of Chemistry
1846 John Wallis The Rudiments of Astronomy
1847 William Thomas Brande The Elements of Organic Chemistry
1848 Michael Faraday The Chemical History of a Candle
1849 Robert Walker The Properties of Matter and the Laws of Motion
1850 William Thomas Brande The Chemistry of Coal
1851 Michael Faraday Attractive Forces
1852 Chemistry
1853 Voltaic Electricity
1854 The Chemistry of Combustion
1855 The Distinctive Properties of the Common Metals
1856 Attractive Forces
1857 Static Electricity
1858 The Metallic Properties
1859 The Various Forces of Matter and their Relations to Each Other
1860 The Chemical History of a Candle
1861 John Tyndall Light
1862 Edward Frankland Air and Water
1863 John Tyndall Electricity at Rest and Electricity in Motion
1864 Edward Frankland The Chemistry of a Coal
1865 John Tyndall Sound
1866 Edward Frankland The Chemistry of Gases
1867 John Tyndall Heat and Cold
1868 William Odling The Chemical Changes of Carbon
1869 John Tyndall Light
1870 William Odling Burning and Unburning
1871 John Tyndall Ice, water, vapor and air
1872 William Odling Air and Gas
1873 John Tyndall The Motion and Sensation of Sound
1874 John Hall Gladstone The Voltaic Battery
1875 John Tyndall Experimental Electricity
1876 John Hall Gladstone The Chemistry of Fire
1877 John Tyndall Heat, Visible and Invisible
1878 James Dewar A soap bubble
1879 John Tyndall Water and Air
1880 James Dewar Atom
1881 Robert Stawell Ball The Sun, the Moon and the Planets
1882 John Tyndall Light and the Eye
1883 James Dewar Alchemy in Relation to Modern Science
1884 John Tyndall The Sources of Electricity
1885 James Dewar The Story of a Meteorite
1886 The Chemistry of Light and Photography
1887 Robert Stawell Ball Astronomy
1888 James Dewar Clouds and Cloudland
1889 Arthur Rücker Electricity
1890 James Dewar Frost and Fire
1891 John Gray McKendrick Life in motion; or the Animal Machine
1892 Robert Stawell Ball Astronomy
1893 James Dewar Air: Gaseous and Liquid
1894 John Ambrose Fleming The Work of an Electric Current
1895 John Gray McKendrick Sound, hearing and speech
1896 Sylvanus Phillips Thompson Light, Visible and Invisible
1897 Oliver Lodge The Principles of the Electric Telegraph
1898 Robert Stawell Ball Astronomy
1899 Charles Vernon Boys Fluids in Motion and at Rest
1900 Robert Stawell Ball Great Chapters from the Book of Nature
1901 John Ambrose Fleming Waves and Ripples in Water, Air and Aether
1902 Henry Selby Hele-Shaw Locomotion: On the Earth, Through the Water, in the Air
1903 Edwin Ray Lankester Extinct Animals
1904 Henry Cunynghame Ancient and Modern Methods of Measuring Time
1905 Herbert Hall Turner Astronomy
1906 William Duddell Signaling to a distance
1907 David Gill Astronomy, Old and New
1908 William Stirling The Wheel of Life
1909 William Duddell Modern Electricity
1910 Sylvanus Phillips Thompson Sound: Musical and Non-Musical
1911 Peter Chalmers Mitchell The Childhood of Animals
1912 James Dewar Christmas Lecture Epilogues
1913 Herbert Hall Turner A Voyage in Space
1914 Charles Vernon Boys Science in the Home
1915 Herbert Hall Turner Wireless Messages from the Stars
1916 Arthur Keith The Human Machine Which All Must Work
1917 John Ambrose Fleming Our Useful Servants: Magnetism and Electricity
1918 D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson The Fish of the Sea
1919 William Henry Bragg The World of Sound
1920 John Arthur Thomson The Haunts of Life
1921 John Ambrose Fleming Electric Waves and Wireless Telephony
1922 Herbert Hall Turner Six Steps Up the Ladder to the Stars
1923 William Henry Bragg Concerning the Nature of Things
1924 Francis Balfour-Browne Concerning the Habits of Insects
1925 William Henry Bragg Old Trades and New Knowledge
1926 Archibald Vivian Hill Nerves and Muscles: How We Feel and Move
1927 Edward Andrade Engines
1928 Alexander Wood Sound waves and their uses
1929 Stephen Glanville How Things Were Done in Ancient Egypt
1930 Arthur Mannering Tyndall The Electric Spark
1931 William Henry Bragg The Universe of Light
1932 Alexander Oliver Rankine The Round of the Waters
1933 James Hopwood Jeans Through space and time
1934 William Lawrence Bragg Electricity
1935 Kenneth Mees Photography
1936 Geoffrey Ingram Taylor Ships
1937 Julian Huxley Rare Animals and the Disappearance of Wild Life
1938 James Kendall Young Chemists and Great Discoveries
1939-1942 No lectures
1943 Edward Andrade Vibrations and Waves
1944 Harold Spencer Jones Astronomy in our Daily Life
1945 Robert Watson-Watt Wireless
1946 Hamilton Hartridge Colors and How We See Them
1947 Eric Rideal Chemical Reactions: How They Work
1948 Frederic Bartlett The Mind at Work and Play
1949 Percy Dunsheath The Electric Current
1950 Edward Andrade Waves and Vibrations
1951 James Gray How Animals Move
1952 F. Sherwood Taylor How Science Has Grown
1953 John Ashworth Ratcliffe The Uses of Radio Waves
1954 Frank Whittle The Story of Petroleum
1955 Harry W. Melville Big Molecules
1956 Harry Baines Photography
1957 Julian Huxley and James Fisher Birds
1958 John Ashworth Ratcliffe , James M. Stagg ,
Robert LF Boyd ,
Graham Sutton ,
George Deacon ,
Gordon de Quetteville Robin
International Geophysical Year
1959 Thomas Allibone The Release and Use of Atomic Energy
1960 Vernon Ellis Cosslett Seeing the Very Small
1961 William Lawrence Bragg Electricity
1962 Richard Evelyn Donohue Bishop vibration
1963 Ronald King Energy
1964 Desmond Morris Animal Behavior
1965 Bernard Lovell , Francis Graham-Smith ,
Martin Ryle , Antony Hewish
Exploration of the Universe
1966 Eric Laithwaite The Engineer in Wonderland
1967 Richard L. Gregory The Intelligent Eye
1968 Philip Morrison Gulliver's Laws: The Physics of Large and Small
1969 George Porter Time Machines
1970 John Napier Monkeys Without Tails: A Giraffe's Eye-view of Man
1971 Charles Taylor Sounds of Music: the Science of Tones and Tune
1972 Geoffrey G. Gouriet Ripples in the Ether: The Science of Radio Communication
1973 David Attenborough The Language of Animals
1974 Eric Laithwaite The Engineer Through the Looking Glass
1975 Heinz Wolff Signals from the interior
1976 George Porter The Natural History of a Sunbeam
1977 Carl Sagan The Planets
1978 Erik Christopher Zeeman Mathematics into Pictures
1979 Eric M. Rogers Atoms for Engineering Minds: A Circus of Experiments
1980 David Chilton Phillips
with Max Perutz in Lecture 5
The Chicken, the Egg and the Molecules
1981 Reginald Victor Jones From Magna Carta to Microchip
1982 Colin Blakemore Common sense
1983 Leonard Maunder Machines in Motion
1984 Walter Bodmer The Message of the Genes
1985 John David Pye Communicating
1986 Lewis Wolpert Frankenstein's Quest: Development of Life
1987 John Meurig Thomas and David Phillips Crystals and Lasers
1988 Gareth Roberts The Home of the Future
1989 Charles Taylor Exploring Music
1990 Malcolm Longair Origins
1991 Richard Dawkins Growing Up in the Universe
1992 Charles JM Stirling Our World Through the Looking Glass
1993 Frank Close The Cosmic Onion
1994 Susan Greenfield Journey to the Center of the Brain
1995 James A. Jackson Planet Earth, An Explorer's Guide
1996 Simon Conway Morris The History in our Bones
1997 Ian Stewart The Magical Maze
1998 Nancy Rothwell Staying Alive
1999 Neil F. Johnson Arrows of Time
2000 Kevin Warwick Rise of the Robots
2001 John Sulston The Secrets of Life
2002 Tony Ryan (scientist) Smart stuff
2003 Monica Grady Voyage in Space and Time
2004 Lloyd Peck To the End of the Earth: Surviving Antarctic Extremes
2005 John Krebs The Truth About Food
2006 Marcus you sautoy The Num8er My5teries
2007 Hugh Montgomery Back from the Brink: The Science of Survival
2008 Christopher Bishop Hi-tech Trek
2009 Sue Hartley The 300-Million-Year War
2010 Mark Miodownik Size Matters
2011 Bruce Hood Meet your brain
2012 Peter Wothers The Modern Alchemist
2013 Alison Woollard Life Fantastic
2014 Danielle George Sparks will fly: How to Hack your Home
2015 Kevin Fong How to survive in space
2016 Saiful Islam Supercharged: Filling the future
2017 Sophie Scott The Language of Life


  • Frank AJL James (Ed.): Christmas At The Royal Institution: An Anthology of Lectures by M. Faraday, J. Tyndall, RS Ball, SP Thompson, ER Lankester, WH Bragg, WL Bragg, RL Gregory, and I. Stewa . World Scientific, 2008, ISBN 9789812771087 .

Web links