When: 1st November 2013 1pm – 2pm (doors open at 12.30pm)
Where: The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG
£: This event is free to attend and open to all. No tickets are required, seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
What is it?
Enjoy a free lunchtime lecture at the Royal Society.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, fireworks offered some intriguing possibilities for scientific research among the experimental philosophers of the Royal Society. What was the nature of fire? How did combustion work? Why did gunpowder explode? What made rockets ascend, how high could they go, and how far away was the flame of a rocket visible? Experimenters used fireworks to explore all of these questions, drawing on the skills and performances of London’s pyrotechnists to help them in their inquiries.
Dr Simon Werrett is Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science, University College London. His talk will explore the place of fireworks in early experimental science, and show how experimenters had to steer a careful path when using fireworks. Too much playing with fire could be construed as trivialising science or allied with dangerous religious fanaticism associated with fiery tempers and overheated imaginations. Studying “cooler” phenomena like phosphorus and the electric fire might help to avoid such problems.
More info: royalsociety.org/events/2013/fireworks