Boomerangs, bouncing balls and other spinning things

6.00pm to 7.15pm, Friday 7 February

The Theatre

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

This event has already taken place

  • Credit: stevebidmead via Pixabay
  • Type

  • Audience

    Ages 7+

  • Speakers

  • Chair




Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

Why does a spinning top stand up? Why doesn't a rolling wheel fall over? And how does a falling cat always manage to land on its feet? Spinning things are strange.

Hugh Hunt explores the common underlying threads that link all of these interesting phenomena, using a range of exciting and sometimes perplexing demos. We'll even throw a few indoor boomerangs - hoping not to break any windows!

Underpinning all of this excitement is a fundamental bit of science: The law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. You should leave knowing a little about this surprisingly important law.

About the speaker

Hugh Hunt is a Reader in Engineering Dynamics and Vibration at Cambridge University. His research centres on the control of noise and vibration from underground railways. He is now promoting other technologies for the removal of non-CO2 greenhouse gases and also runs the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series which aims to raise awareness of the urgency around climate change. 

Hugh is a regular presenter on television documentaries on Channel 4, PBS Nova and SBS, including "Dambusters: Building the Bouncing Bomb", "Attack of the Zeppelins", "Escape from Colditz" and "Guy Martin Wall of Death".

He has an impressive collection of boomerangs which he uses to inspire students in the study of dynamics and mechanics.


The doors will open at approximately 5.30pm, with a prompt start at 6.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri's YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo