Makers, hackers, creators; the Royal Institution needs YOU to help with the 2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES

Professor Danielle George is set to deliver the 2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES in a demonstration packed, three-part series called ‘Sparks will fly: How to hack your home’ at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

  • danielle george christmas lectures 2014

    Danielle George

    Credit: Royal Institution


In preparation for this year's CHRISTMAS LECTURES ‘Sparks will fly: How to hack your home’, the Royal Institution (Ri) has launched an online community to help showcase the creativity and ingenuity of the UK and international maker movement. The aim of the new online gallery is to show how with just a spark of imagination and some twenty first century tinkering anyone anywhere can change the world.

The most inventive and imaginative hacks will be selected by the 2014 Christmas Lecturer Prof Danielle George and Ri team to appear in the CHRISTMAS LECTURES broadcast and will be championed across the Ri’s other social media platforms.

The gallery is now open for video and photo submissions at and will close at 11.59pm GMT on Friday 31 October. No project is too big or too small! For example, have you hacked yourself a self-timing dog feeder, modified your house’s light switches, or reinvented your phone? Ideas that use a lightbulb, a phone and/or a motor are particularly welcomed.

Danielle, who grew up in Newcastle, said: “When I was eight years old I was given a telescope by my parents and I was fascinated - I would get up in the middle of the night to watch lunar eclipses. I knew immediately that some form of hands-on investigation was what I wanted to do in life.

“Today’s generation are in a truly unique position. The technology we use and depend on every day is expanding and developing at a phenomenal rate and so our society has never been more equipped to be creative and innovative. I want everyone to realise that that they have the power to change the world right from their bedroom, kitchen table or garden shed.

“If we all take control of the technology and systems around us, and think creatively, then solving some of the world’s greatest challenges is only a small step away. I believe everyone has the potential to be an inventor!” 

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For more details please contact:

Hayley Burwell, Head of Marketing and Communications, Royal Institution


T: 020 7670 2991

Notes to editors

2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES Sparks will fly: How to hack your home

A revolution is happening. Across the world people are taking control of the devices we use every day, customising them, creating new things and using the sparks of their imagination to change the world. Now it’s your turn, and you can start with the things you have around you.

Electrical engineer, Prof Danielle George will take three great British inventions – a light bulb, a telephone and a motor – and show you how to adapt them and transform them to do extraordinary things. This is tinkering for the twenty-first century, using the full array of cutting edge devices that we can lay our hands on: 3D printers, new materials, online collaboration and controlling devices through coding.

Inspired by the great inventors and standing on the shoulders of thousands of people playing at their kitchen table or in their shed, Danielle will announce the new rules of invention and show you how to use modern tools and technologies and things from your home to have fun and make a difference to the world around you.

Anything could happen. Sparks will fly.

Lecture 1: The Light Bulb Moment

Filming Date: Thursday 11 December 2014

1878. Geordie inventor Joseph Swan demonstrates the first working light bulb. Now in 2014 we can find tiny LED’s in almost everything we own.  So can we use a humble light bulb to start our own imaginative, creative process? Danielle will announce the new rules of invention and show you how to use modern tools and technologies to have fun and make a difference to the world around you.

Lecture 2: Making Contact

Filming Date: Saturday 13 December 2014

It was Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell who first managed to get the world’s first telephone to transmit speech – and now we carry these amazing devices around in our pockets! We’re now connected to everyone else in the world, so can we use these networks to solve problems? Danielle will innovate to make astonishing connections that Bell could only have dreamed of.

Lecture 3: A New Revolution

Filming Date: Tuesday 16 December 2014

The Royal Institution’s very own Michael Faraday demonstrated the world’s first motor in 1822 – now we are surrounded by devices that spin, swing and saw. Engineers often find themselves in a cycle of prototyping, testing and perfecting, so can we use these principles to turn a motor into something world changing? Danielle will use her imagination and the new rules of invention to move things in ways that Faraday could only have dreamed of.

About Danielle George

Prof Danielle George is Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and a Professor in the Microwave and Communications Systems research group at the University of Manchester.  She completed her BSc in Astrophysics, MSc in Radio Astronomy at The Victoria University of Manchester based at Jodrell Bank Observatory, and her PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with UMIST.  She worked at Jodrell Bank Observatory as a senior Radio Frequency Engineer until 2006 when she took up a lectureship post in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. She was awarded a Professorship earlier this year at the age of 38. 

Danielle’s expertise in radio frequency and microwave communications has a wide range of applications across a number of industries. To date most of her research and development work has been carried out on a variety of aspects relating to ultra low noise receivers for Space and Aerospace applications. She is the UK lead for amplifiers in the $1B astronomical instrument, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the $1B Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope and has worked with NASA and ESA on the development of instrumentation for researchers exploring the Big Bang. She has worked with agriculturists on the development of instrumentation to measure water usage, and with a number of multi-national companies such as Rolls Royce where she worked on industrial gas turbine engines. 

She thoroughly enjoys the teaching aspects of her career and lectures to both undergraduates and postgraduate students, in particular Electronic Circuit Design to undergraduates and Microwave Systems to MSc students. She is passionate about raising public awareness of the positive impact engineering has on all aspects of our everyday lives and highlighting to young people the immense depth and breadth of opportunities a career in engineering can offer.

The middle one of three sisters, Danielle grew up in Newcastle where her parents still live. Fascinated by science from an early age, she was given a telescope by her parents when she was eight years old and would regularly get up in the middle of the night to watch lunar eclipses. She credits this experience as the moment she first realised how physics and mathematics could be applied in a practical sense outside the classroom and as the first step on her path to her current career.

She now lives in Manchester with her husband Richard.

Follow Danielle on Twitter at @EngineerDG


The CHRISTMAS LECTURES are the Royal Institution’s biggest and most famous, demonstration-based science events for young people. They are broadcast on UK television every Christmas and have formed part of the festive tradition for generations – often being compared to the Queen’s Christmas message and the carols from Kings.

The CHRISTMAS LECTURES have been inspiring children and adults alike since 1825. The Lectures were initiated by Michael Faraday at a time when organised education for young people was scarce. He presented 19 series himself, establishing an exciting new way of presenting science to young people.

The CHRISTMAS LECTURES have continued annually since the 1825 series, stopping only during World War II. Many world-famous scientists have given the Lectures including Nobel Prize winners William and Lawrence Bragg, Sir David Attenborough, Carl Sagan, Lord George Porter and Dame Nancy Rothwell.

The CHRISTMAS LECTURES have been broadcast on television since 1966, first on the BBC and then on Channel Five, Channel Four and more4. In 2010, the Lectures returned to BBC Four and in 2013 the broadcast reached over 2 million viewers.