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Bang, bang!

Experience the flashes, whizzes and bangs of exploding chemistry in the Faraday Lecture Theatre

400 years ago this November, a group of plotters tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament with36 barrels of gunpowder. A man named Guy Fawkes was captured and killed for the part he played in the plot. To celebrate King James foiling this daring but foolish plan, British people ‘remember, remember the 5th of November’ by lighting bonfires with a ‘guy’ on top, and filling the sky with fantastic firework displays. But there is more to fireworks than meets the eye. Do you know how they get to be so colourful? Or how to make the biggest bang? Well believe it or not, it’s all down to the wonders of chemistry. Join us to explore the science behind the great traditions of ‘bonfire night’. Experience the flashes, whizzes and bangs of exploding chemistry in the Faraday Lecture Theatre, and learn the secrets of toffee apples – how do simple sugar crystals manage to turn into such a delicious sticky coating? Stay around after the event for free soft drinks and nibbles. There will be a prize for the best Guy, so get creative! And don’t worry – the event will finish in plenty of time for you to return to your own local firework displays and see what you’ve learned in action!

Jacqueline Akhavan is a senior lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Ordnance Systems at Cranfield University. Jackie has written a book for the Royal Society of Chemistry on the Chemistry of explosives.

Len Fisher is a tireless promoter and populariser of science. Recipient of an IgNobel Prize for his studies in the physics of biscuit dunking, Len was voted ‘an enemy of the people’ by The Times for work on the way roast dinners absorb gravy.

This event is supported by Flipside.


Dr Jacqueline Akhavan | talks
Dr Len Fisher | talks


Date and Time:

5 November 2005 at 2:00 pm


2 hours



The Royal Institution of Great Britain
21 Albemarle Street
020 7409 2992

More at The Royal Institution of Great Britain...



£5 for adults, £2 for children

Available from:

www.rigb.org or phone 020 7409 2992

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