The extreme world of ultra intense lasers (Friday Evening Discourse)

7.50pm - 9.15pm, Friday 24 April

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Two lasers going through diffusers

    Credit: Douglas Muth via Flickr


Standard £17


Associate members £11


Free to Members, Faraday Members and Fellows

Event description

When lasers were invented over half a century ago they were hailed as a “solution looking for a problem”. Since then lasers have come to revolutionise our lives through their practical applications such as data transport and CD/ DVD players, and as a tool for industry and science.

The largest and most powerful lasers in the world can be used to make some of the most extreme conditions possible on earth. Scientists around the globe are using these lasers to try to miniaturise particle accelerators, make astrophysical conditions in the lab, and create fusion energy. Dr Kate Lancaster will lead you through this extreme world with demonstrations along the way in celebration of the International Year of Light.

About the speaker

Kate Lancaster was awarded a PhD in Advanced Fast Ignition studies (laser driven fusion) by Imperial College London before working at the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Her background is in laser plasma interactions and laser driven fusion and she is now the Plasma and Fusion industrial officer for the York Plasma Institute, University of York.

Please note

If you haven't been before, please note that Friday Evening Discourses are traditional events that date back to 1825. With that in mind, many attendees like to wear smart evening dress, though this is not a requirement.

There is also a certain level of tradition and ceremony during the event, including: the speaker and host walk through the doors as the clock bell rings at exactly 8pm; the speaker starts the talk with no introduction or hellos, and should finish at 9pm as the clock bell rings again; the speaker is locked in a room 10 minutes before the talk begins to prevent them running away (legend has it that once a speaker escaped just before the discourse). 

Find out more about the history of the Friday Evening Discourses on our blog.


This event will be filmed and availble to watch on the Ri Channel a few weeks after it has finished.

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