Lecture 2 – Why chocolate melts and jet planes don't

As we zoom into the microscopically small realm beneath our fingertips to explore the tiny world we have created inside mobile phones, jet planes and chocolate, curious things start to happen. Gravity becomes less and less important, while stickiness and quantum mechanics start to dominate.

This is the wild west of science, where anything and everything seems possible, but is it? Can we create invisibility cloaks, self-healing phones and super-strong jet planes just by controlling the scale of things? Journey into the inner space of the things around us to find out how the very small affects the very large.

Mark Miodownik shows that even the taste of chocolate depends on the size of extraordinary crystals which are designed to only melt in your mouth. Moving up in scale he then reveals how sperm whales – one of the world’s biggest animals – use a unique material called spermaceti to increase and decrease their body density and adjust their buoyancy.

Supported by

Copyright

© Royal Institution / Windfall Films

Year

2010

Lecturer

Mark Miodownik

Duration

59:07

All lectures in the series