The autumn season of Friday lectures at The Royal Society has been published – and these really are worth asking your boss if you can have a long lunch-break to attend. They are usually presented by someone about to publish a book, but are also free of charge and quite enjoyable.

You have to book a space, as the lectures are held in their library and space is limited (I think about 100 people). I’ll be at the Cider and Sir Hans Sloane lectures (at the very least), so say hello if you are there.

Click on the titles below to book a place.

Friday 3 October, 1pm
Astronomers Royal through the Ages
Moon In 1675, King Charles II caused the Royal Greenwich Observatory to be founded for the purpose of determining longitude at sea by ‘the astronomical method’. This talk will look at the work of some of the interesting Astronomers Royal, who for centuries ran the observatory.
Sir Arnold Wolfendale FRS

Friday 10 October, 1pm
Sparkling Cider and the Evolution of Methode Champenoise
Cover of Ciderland James Crowden will talk about cider-making in the mid 17th century and the experiments which led to the evolution of the bottle-fermented sparkling process, otherwise known as the methode champenoise. Papers read to the Royal Society in 1662-63 show that the research work paid dividends many years before certain French champagne houses claim that Dom Perignon ‘invented’ the process.
James Crowden, author of Ciderland

Friday 17 October, 1pm
Sir Isaac Newton, Science, and Unorthodox Theology

Diagram by Newton Sir Isaac Newton spent much of his life investigating subjects we would not now think of as scientific, including alchemy and his own private theology. This talk will explore the links between the different areas of Newton’s research.
Rob Iliffe, University of Sussex

Friday 24 October, 1pm
Sir Hans Sloane and his Library

Portrait of Sir Hans Sloane Sir Hans Sloane started collecting books when he was about 20 years old, and continued until his death at the age of 92. His collections formed the basis of the British Museum and included some 40,000 printed volumes. By looking at what he acquired and how it was used we can learn about the man himself, his career and the intellectual and scientific circles in which he lived.
Alison Walker, The British Library

Friday 31 October, 1pm
The Lisbon Catastrophe
Earthquake destruction of Lisbon The Lisbon earthquake, which took place on the morning of 1 November 1755, was Europe’s greatest natural disaster. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami and fire, destroying much of Lisbon. This talk will reconstruct the events of the day with the assistance of Royal Society archive material.
Edward Paice, author of Wrath of God: The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755

Friday 7 November, 1pm
Taming Nature: John Lubbock and Nineteenth-Century Entomology

Wasp This talk examines the career of Charles Darwin’s neighbour, John Lubbock FRS, first Baron Avebury (1834-1914) banker, MP, anthropologist, and entomologist. He made significant contributions to the study of insects, and his achievements are said to have included taming a wasp, and teaching a dog to read.
John Clark, University of St Andrews

Friday 14 November, 1pm
“Spider Man”: The Virtuosity of Dr Martin Lister, an Early Royal Society Luminary

Spider Dr Martin Lister (1638-1712), vice-president of the Royal Society and court physician, is best known as England’s first arachnologist and conchologist. This talk will also address some of his lesser-known discoveries, including his invention of the histogram and the stratigraphic map.
Anna Marie Roos, Wellcome Unit, Oxford University

Friday 21 November, 1pm
The Singular Life of Edward Heron-Allen FRS

Foraminifera Having trained as a solicitor, Edward Heron-Allen (1861-1943) went on to write a definitive work on violin-making, lecture in America on palmistry, and publish science fiction and translations of Persian poetry. His work on the foraminifera (microscopic marine organisms) of the Sussex coast led to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Tim McCann, The Heron-Allen Society

Friday 28 November, 1pm
Palmer’s Penguins and the Warming of Antarctica

Adelie penguins What can the daily lives of penguins tell us about Earth’s changing climate? Science writer Meredith Hooper will talk about her work with American seabird ecologists as they investigated the links between declining numbers of Adelie penguins and the visible warming occuring along the Antarctic Peninsula.
Meredith Hooper, author of The Ferocious Summer

Friday 5 December, 1pm
Water: The Long Road from Aristotelian Element to H2O

Drawing of snowflakes Until as late as the 1780s water was still generally considered one of Aristotle’s four elements. A whole century of exciting and challenging scientific debates were required before ‘water is H2O’ became scientific common sense. The surprising history of this most familiar of substances illustrates the hidden challenges in establishing even the simplest of scientific facts.
Hasok Chang, University College London


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