Spring 2017 events

Our exciting programme of events from January to April is now open for booking. Don't miss out!

  • Even simple phenomena like drops of water are surprisingly complex 

    Credit: Joe Dyer via Flickr
  • Find out more about the invention of the Davy lamp with Sharon Ruston.

    Credit: Royal Institution
  • Jo Marchant explores the many ways your mind can influence your physical health.

    Credit: Jo Marchant
  • Find out more about the thousands of worlds that orbit stars other than our own.

    Credit: Tim Pyle via Wikimedia

Spring programme

Running from 10 January until the end of April, events in the Ri's new programme are now available to book online. We have talks from eminent philosophers, physicists, philanthropists and palaeontologists this season, as well as explosive family shows and Discourses from leading thinkers.

Read on for some of the highlights or browse our What's On calendar online to book your events today.

Don't forget, Ri Members benefit from free and discounted tickets.


This season's Discourses cover a broad range of science, from computers to rocks, proteins to autism.

Computers are great, but mathematician Kevin Buzzard will deliver the first Discourse of 2017 exploring problems they can't solve.

On 24 February, Oxford biochemist Sylvia McLain will discuss the vital importance of water for life.

At the end of March, physicist Mike Glazer will dissect the wonders of perovskites, one the Earth's most common materials.

The final Discourse of the spring 2017 programme features Stephanie Shirley, who will share her experiences with autism and demonstrate how technology can be used to understand autism.

Brains, brains, brains

Everyone has one, but how do they work? With perspectives from philosophy, neuroscience, computer science and psychology, this spring we're taking the brain apart and putting it back together. 

We're looking at how brains get 'programmed' with Daniel C Dennett, how brains change as we age with a panel led by former Christmas Lecturer Bruce Hood and the mistakes our idiot brains make with a panel of Guardian neuroscience columnists led by Dean Burnett.

  • Daniel C. Dennett is interested in how consciousness might have evolved and how brains get programmed.

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • The ways neurons interact with each other change as our bodies and minds develop.

    Credit: ZEISS Microscopy via Flickr

  • Sometimes the brain that evolved for survival in the forest lets us down in the urban jungle.

    Credit: Dean Burnett

Stories of science

The history of the Ri is rich with stories, from discoveries and inventions to controversies and explosions. Join us this Spring for a series of fantastic talks exploring the history of science.

Hear from Sharon Ruston as she opens Humphry Davy's letters to gain an insight into the true story behind the miners' safety lamp. Find out from Samira Ahmed how Oliver Lodge attempts use science to find the spirit world. Attend a Victorian magic lantern show, like the ones performed here by John Tyndall, given by Jeremy Brooker and celebrate 100 years since the publication of On Growth and Form with Philip Ball

How physics works

How does physics research actually work? This season we have a range of scientists who want to talk about what often gets ignored.

Physicist Helen Czerski thinks we need to talk about physics. We focus a lot on the tiny and the huge, but she wants to look at physics that happens at everyday scales - no quantum weirdness or cosmological existential despair. 

In March, an expert panel of sociologists, psychologists and physicists will explore how unconscious bias shapes the world of science.

To round off a season of discussing the undiscussed, Mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose will share his argument for how researchers at the frontiers of physics research might be led by fashion, faith and fantasy rather than evidence.

  • Despite years of searching, Oliver Lodge never found the spirit world.

    Credit: Thomas Wolter via Pixabay

  • Everyday phenomena can produce beautiful and complex structures.

    Credit: Joe Dyer via Flickr


This season's Family Fun Day is themed around the 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES, so get ready for some superfuelled demonstrations, talks and experiments.

We also have Giovanna Tinetti exploring alien worlds, Andrew Pontzen measuring the Universe, Dan Plane exploding foodstuffs for science (twice!) and David Hone chronicling the adventures of tyrannosaurs.

Filming our events

Many of the events in this programme will be filmed and available on the Ri YouTube Channel a few months after the event. Subscribe to receive notifications each time a video is released.

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