Ripples in the ether – Vision of the future (1972)

Geoffrey G. Gouriet

Geoffrey Gouriet shows us some of the most remarkable inventions that back in 1972 were still under development.

Watch time: 56:41
A still from the 1972 CHRISTMAS LECTURE
Image credit: Royal Institution

Lecture 6 – Vision of the future

In the last lecture of his CHRISTMAS LECTURES series, Geoffrey Gouriet shows us some of the most remarkable inventions that back in 1972 were still under development.

We learn about the viewphone, a device which not only transmits sound but also video, and how optic fibres would be bringing such technologies into our home. Also, we are presented with a laser disc, straight from the research lab, that can store video; a huge breakthrough at the time that took 45 years to achieve.

Among other great demonstrations, Gouriet sets up a live broadcast from within the lecture theatre as well as transmitting a colour television signal through an optic fibre and have it broadcasted; as Gouriet said: "A world first!". 


In his 1972 CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Geoffrey G Gouriet explores the past, present and future of radio communications, and the science that lies behind it.

Radio waves are all around us, continuously being produced and received through man-made devices enabling us to connect with each other and communicate information. Geoffrey Gouriet, through the course of six Lectures, takes us on a journey through history from the first telephone to the 'Viewphone' and with the aid of exciting demonstrations, he explains how devices in our house like the TV translate broadcasted signals into moving pictures.

Gouriet begins with an introduction to electromagnetic waves and the principle behind it as well as how electricity can be used to transmit information.

We then learn how we can get rid of the wires and transmit information through the 'ether' using radio waves and utilizing the layers of the Earth's atmosphere to reach distant locations; the basis of radio and TV broadcasting.

Finally, Gouriet demonstrates how TVs and radios work and how the broadcasted signal is translated. In his last lecture, he gives us a 'vision of the future' outlining how different technologies were currently (then) in development and he even sets up a live broadcast using small dishes from within the lecture theatre.