The Royal Institution, London

May 11, 2023

Fab evening at London’s historic Royal Institution. Such an amazing venue. Such a warm and intimate space for a talk. And such a friendly and enthusiastic audience. Thanks to Daniel Glaser for showing me behind the scenes – the gallery around the theatre, the room with the old Christmas Lectures props etc – and telling about the amazing acoustics of the theatre, designed by Thomas Webster in 1799 (see below).

What I would give to have a time machine so I could back to 1821 and see an electric motor whirring in Faraday’s RI lab as horse-drawn carriages rattled past on the cobbles outside. The only electric motor in the world! A piece of the future that had somehow fallen through a crack of time into Victorian London. Faraday and his 14-year-old nephew, George, were so euphoric at the sight that they danced around the lab table, then went off to a circus to celebrate.

I was a bit less ambitious than Feynman. Rather than telling people the one thing they needed to know to reconstruct civilisation after a cataclysm, I merely told them the one thing they needed to know to understand relativity, global warming quantum computers etc!

14 Nobel Prizes. And 10 chemical elements discovered in the building. The Royal Institution must surely be the most concentrated hotspot of scientific development in the world!


The Royal Institution lecture theatre is designed so there is an acoustical sweet spot just in front of the table. If you stand there, you can hear anyone in the auditorium perfecly and they can hear you. Without any need for a microphone. Genius.

There’s nothing like signing books under a lovely chandelier!




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