The natural history of a sunbeam – Survival under the sun (1976)

George Porter

George Porter looks at how sunlight powers sustainable energy sources.

Watch time: 59:39
George Porter speaking in the Ri theatre
Credit: Royal Institution

Lecture 6 – Survival under the sun

Methods in which sunshine can create electricity and fuel are investigated in this 1976 CHRISTMAS LECTURE from chemist George Porter.

Harnessing the sun's energy for power using the chemical element silicon is explored. Porter demos how silicon can be used to create solar panels for satellites which run off energy from sunlight.

Using a timeline as a visual aid, Porter talks about the eradication of fossil fuels and how the sun can continue to supply us with power in the future.


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.