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Visit to the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture ~ 16th December 2021

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam - Going viral: How Covid changed Science forever. 

Royal Institution website

‘The Christmas lectures are the most prestigious event in the Royal  Institution’s calendar, dating from when Michael  Faraday founded the series.

They are the world’s longest-running television  series and always promise to inspire and amaze each year through explosive demonstration and  Interactive experiments with a live theatre audience.’

Having the benefit of membership of the Royal Institution allowed the science department to enter the ballot for tickets to the annual Christmas lecture. For the second year we were successful, and were allocated three student tickets.

As a reward for their hard work and commitment in all areas of science study; students were selected at random after recommendations from their science teachers. From Year 12; William Henderson and Emily Dastjerdi and from Year 11 Maya Broughton were chosen from the many student suggestions. These students were escorted by Mrs Vialls & Miss Petrie to the Royal Institution on the evening of 16th December.

Professor Van-Tam or ‘JVT’ as he likes to be known, was appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer in October 2017. He became a national figure during the Covid -19 Pandemic through his appearances, as Deputy to Professor Sir Chris Whitty, at the Downing Street Prime Minister briefings. His use of colourful language and clear descriptions of statistical data made him a popular figure throughout the national lockdown.

The filming of the Christmas lecture was live, and we experienced what it is like to take part in a TV programme. Professor Van-Tam explained the technology of masks and why they were an important tool against the spread of the virus. He emphasised how the fight against the spread of Covid was an international collaboration of scientists in different scientific fields. To illustrate this point he was joined by experts. Professor Catherine Noakes, an Engineer who specialises in airborne infections, illustrated how important ventilation is in dispersing virus particles. Mathematician Professor Julia Gog also joined the lecture and demonstrated the effect of the spread of the virus with reference to the R number through some very clever technology displayed on the audience's mobile phones.

This was a very unique and enjoyable opportunity for us all!

The series of three episodes of the 2021 Christmas lectures can be viewed on the BBC iplayer.  Royal Institution 2021 Christmas Lecture

Mrs Vialls, Head of Science