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Gold: Unreactive and underrated

Explore the economic and scientific relevance of Gold as part of the international year of the periodic table.

PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

Event description

Gold has always been significant to our lives. How did such an unreactive element become essential to economies around the world? What makes nano-gold so useful in medicine? Join our panel of experts as they take a closer look at an element entrenched in both the economic and scientific world.

Please note that this event starts later than usual.

About the speakers

Frank James is Professor of the History of Science and Head of Collections at the Royal Institution. He studied at Imperial College where he received his PhD for a thesis on the development of spectroscopy in the nineteenth century. After a year at the Institute of Education, he joined the Royal Institution to establish its history of science activities. In 1998 he was appointed Head of Collections and Heritage and was appointed Professor of History of Science in 2004.

Ross Norman is CEO of Sharps Pixley, London's leading physical bullion brokers based just 100 metres from the Ri on St James’s Street. Ross is a former gold refiner with Johnson Matthey, before becoming a senior gold trader with NM Rothschild & Sons and later Credit Suisse. Ross heads the table as the leading gold price forecaster over the last 20 years within the London Bullion Market Association.

Ellie Doney is an artist and materials enthusiast who engages in making, cooking and eating with people across disciplines to explore and understand the reciprocal relationships between the materials and creatures we are. She is currently a doctoral research student at the Slade School of Fine Art / Institute of Making with her project: Food & Transformation.

Your chair for the evening will be Director of the Royal Institution, Shaun Fitzgerald. 


The doors will open at approximately 7.00pm, with a prompt start at 7.30pm.

Latecomers will be admitted to the gallery.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.