The natural history of a sunbeam – Candles from the sun (1976)

George Porter

Man-made light and fuel sources are examined in this Lecture by Sir George Porter.

Watch time: 59:09
George Porter speaking in the Ri theatre
Credit: Royal Institution

Lecture 4 – Candles from the sun

Nobel prize-winning scientist Sir George Porter explores the science behind man-made light and heat in this 1976 CHRISTMAS LECTURE.

He recounts the history of artificial light sources such as lamps and the formation of natural fuel sources such as coal and oil.

The Humphry Davy Lamp's role in saving the mining industry from explosions is explained. While the work of Count Rumford founder of the Ri’s work on convection and James Dewar’s Flask are also illustrated.


British scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry Sir George Porter explains the power of light, from the role it plays in stimulating life to supplying energy to our homes, in this selection of engaging and entertaining CHRISTMAS LECTURES from 1976.  

In this series of six videos filmed at the Ri, Sir George Porter, former Director of the Ri and Baron Porter of Luddenham, takes the audience through a plethora of demonstrations and explanations on the importance of sunbeams.