This year marks the 80th anniversary since the BBC first broadcast the Christmas Lectures on TV. To celebrate, chemist Professor Saiful Islam explores a subject that the lectures’ founder – Michael Faraday – addressed in the very first Christmas Lectures – energy.
Part 1: Let There be Light
Saiful investigates how to generate energy without destroying the planet in the process. Saiful begins his lecture by being plunged into darkness. Armed initially with nothing but a single candle, his challenge is to go back to first principles and bring back the power in the energy-hungry lecture theatre. Along the way he explains what energy is, how we can transform it from one form to another, and how we harness it to power the modern world. A fascinating and stimulating celebration of the stuff that quite literally makes the universe tick – the weird and wonderful world of energy.
Part 2: People Power
Saiful investigates how humans as living pulsing machines actually use energy, asking whether it’s possible to ‘supercharge’ the human body and increase its performance. Live experiments explore everything from the explosive potential of everyday foods, to what we put into our bodies (and what comes out!), as well as how we measure up to the machines we use every day. Saiful even experiments on himself, showing images captured inside his own stomach. Every single one of us is an incredibly sophisticated energy conversion machine, finely tuned over millions of years of evolution. So will we ever be able to improve the human body’s performance? Can we ever do more with less energy?
Part 3: Fully Charged
Saiful explores one of the most important issues facing the modern world – how to store energy. He tackles his toughest challenge yet – trying to work out how to store enough energy to power a mobile phone for a whole year and still fit it in his pocket!