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Sticky: The secret science of surfaces

Laurie Winkless explores how friction shapes both the manufactured and natural worlds

Friction on shoe soles stops us from slipping over

Event description

We are surrounded by stickiness. From your vehicle typers gripping the road to The Post-it note in your desk drawer to the non-stick pan on your stove. All are designed with stickiness, or lack of it, in mind.In this talk, Laurie Winkless will explore friction in both the manufactured and natural worlds. She will describe how our understanding of surface science has given us an ability to manipulate stickiness, down to the level of a single atom. But this apparent success doesn't tell the whole story. Each time humanity has pushed the boundaries of science and engineering, we've discovered that friction still has a few surprises up its sleeve.

Laurie's latest book 'Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces' is available from amazon and all good bookshops.

Event type

This is a livestream event where the speaker and audience come together online. 


These online events are free for everyone to access. However, donations are an extremely important source of support for us and we would be most grateful if you are able to contribute. We are a small, independent charity and receive no government funding.  Our income from ticket sales and venue hire has been significantly reduced and will continue to fall. Donations, alongside our membership subscriptions are vital to our development and survival.

Please donate via our JustGiving page. Every donation we receive makes a difference. Thank you for your support.

About the speaker

Laurie Winkless is a writer, physicist and sci-comm consultant currently based in Wellington, NZ. She was a researcher at the National Physical Laboratory for seven years. Her research area was materials, and her specialisation was thermoelectric energy harvesting. Before that, she stuided an MSc in Space Science from University College London, and before that, a BSc Physics with Astrophysics from Trinity College Dublin.


The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you register but miss the live stream, the video will be available to you via the same link for up to a week after the event date.

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and book links on this page are affiliate links, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All proceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.

18 and 19 August holiday workshops cancelled

Due to planned transport strikes, all holiday workshops on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 August are cancelled.