Hack your home with the Christmas Lectures


Professor Danielle George presented the demonstration packed, three-part Christmas Lecture series at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on BBC FOUR this Christmas.

As part of the event, titled ‘Sparks will fly: How to hack your home’,  she transformed the iconic London skyscraper, the Shell Centre, into a giant computer game using hundreds of light bulbs. The Tetris-style game was the spectacular finale to the first programme on December 29.

Danielle, Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering at The University of Manchester, revealed how viewers can change the world from their very own home by taking control of the devices we use every day. She took three great British inventions – a light bulb, a telephone and a motor – and demonstrated how viewers can adapt, transform and ‘hack’ them to do extraordinary things. This is tinkering for the 21st century.

Danielle said: “When I was eight years old I was given a telescope by my parents and I was fascinated - I would get up in the middle of the night to watch lunar eclipses. It was the first time I realised how mathematics and physics could be used in a practical and useful way and I knew immediately that this kind of hands-on investigation was what I wanted to do in life.

“In this year’s Christmas Lectures we wanted to show that with a bit of knowledge, some hard work and a spark of imagination, amazing things are possible. What better way to bring a classic arcade game back to life than on such an iconic building in London? The best thing is, by looking at the devices and objects around us in a new way, and having fun doing it, anyone can learn skills that could help with solving the world’s problems, something that engineers like me are working towards every day.

“Today’s generation of young people are in a truly unique position. The technology we use and depend on every day is expanding and developing at a phenomenal rate and so our society has never been more equipped to be creative and innovative. I want young people to realise that that they have the power to change the world right from their bedroom, kitchen table or garden shed.

“If we all take control of the technology and systems around us, and think creatively, then solving some of the world’s greatest challenges is only a small step away. I believe everyone has the potential to be an inventor!”

Gail Cardew, Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution said: “Our aim with ‘Sparks will fly: how to hack your home’ is to bring to life the incredible ingenuity, innovation and creativity of engineering. I am delighted that Danielle is presenting this year’s lectures and I am sure that the passion and energy she has for her profession will inspire a whole new generation of engineers.”

Filmed in front of a live audience in the iconic theatre at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the original science events for children were started by Michael Faraday in 1825 and have long been seen as a favourite British Christmas tradition. Since 1825, Lectures have been given by many distinguished scientists including Nobel Prize winners William and Lawrence Bragg, Sir David Attenborough, Carl Sagan, Lord George Porter and Dame Nancy Rothwell, The University of Manchester President and Vice-Chancellor.

For more information on the entire series, which ran on December 29, 30 and 31, please visit www.rigb.org/christmas-lectures.

You can watch the lectures on the BBC iPlayer.

Notes for editors

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