Family Fun Day: The chemistry of life

Arrive any time between 11.00am and 4.00pm, Saturday 13 May

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

This event has already taken place

  • Crop fields in the desert

    Credit: Public Domain/ NASA


Standard £14

3 – 18 year olds £7

Discounts for Ri Members and Ri Young Members

Event description

For tickets for this event are still available, and can be purchased on the door.

Hidden inside all living things you can find a world of interesting and unusual chemical reactions. These processes fuel our life and are key to all life on earth. Join us for exciting talks, get hands-on with demos and experiments and enjoy discovering the exciting world of Biochemistry. 

Download a full programme of for the day here.

Please note

All children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a ticket-holding adult.

More details regarding the talks and activities at the event will be released in the coming weeks.

We advise booking tickets in advance because we have been known to sell out up to a week before the event.


Searching for Life in the Cosmos
The search for life in the Universe is one of humanity's last great adventures and we are closer than ever to sending humans out to Mars and other planets and moons, to seek this life out. What are the chances of finding life on Mars, Europa, or Titan and what might it look like? Astrobiologists are trying to figure out where other forms of life might be hiding, how we can find it, and what it might be able to tell us about ourselves and where we came from. Come with Louisa Preston for a journey through the exciting and incredible search for life in the Universe.

Crystal magic: from chocolate to proteins
What has chocolate got to do with drug discovery, proteins and DNA? The linking theme is crystals, which allow us to find out the shapes of all sizes of molecules, ranging from the tiny chocolate molecule to the much larger proteins that allow our bodies to function, through to the long DNA that carries our genetic information. Crystallography was born in 1913 when the Bragg father and son team worked out the structure of sodium chloride (salt). Since then, it has been used all over the world of science from biology to engineering. Join Elspeth Garman to learn about the exciting world of crystals, and even see some form, live!

About the Speakers

Dr. Louisa Preston is a UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow in Astrobiology at Birkbeck University of London. She has worked on projects for NASA and the Canadian, European and UK Space Agencies studying environments across the Earth, where life is able to survive our planet’s most extreme conditions, using them as blueprints for possible extra-terrestrial life forms and habitats.  She is an avid science communicator having spoken about the search for life on Mars at the TED Conference in 2013, and her first book Goldilocks and the Water Bears: The Search for Life in the Universe is out now by Bloomsbury Sigma.

Elspeth Garman is Professor of Molecular Biophysics at Oxford University. After a year as an 18 year old volunteer teacher in Swaziland, Southern Africa she got a degree in Physics at Durham University and then a D.Phil (PhD) in Experimental Nuclear Structure Physics at Oxford. After 7 years of Nuclear Physics Research, she completely changed fields to protein crystallography. Her main research interests are in improving methods for finding the three-dimensional shapes of medically important biological molecules. She is a well known communicator of science and has been interviewed on the Radio 4 program 'The Life Scientific'.

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