Back to my weekend away.   This started with a leisurely drive to Orpington where we parked the car and took a brief train ride into London, much easier than struggling to drive through the city.  The leisurely drive included a stop for a pub lunch.

On the way to the Royal Institution, I found myself in a military book shop and ended up buying a military history book, which is most unlike me.  A visit to the museum in the Ri was a must and, amongst other things, I learned that 10 elements were discovered in the institute and also that 14 Nobel prize winners conducted research there.  Just inside the museum there was a visual display of the periodic table showing the 10 elements that were discovered and which lit up in time to the Tom Lehrer song Elements.  I still can’t get the tune out of my head.

The real reason for the Ri visit, the launch of Christopher Lloyd’s new book “What on Earth Evolved“, was great fun. The theatre was small and intimate and the people attending were diverse; from the adorable school girls all dressed neatly in their uniforms complete with hats to the obvious older and wiser Ri regulars.  The atmosphere was vibrant and Chris gave a fascinating talk summarising the themes and ideas behind his new book.

Chris explained that 100 species feature in the book.  The first 50 evolved naturally in the wild before the age of man but the second 50 had evolved because of man’s intervention.  The talk was complete with props, audience participation and overhead visuals.  The 100 species are all ranked in order of their impact and survival on the planet.  So where does man feature in the list?  He comes in at number 6, the number one slot is taken by the humble earthworm.  I am able to confirm personally that earthworms are very resilient but we won’t go into that further!

One fascinating fact I learned is that when individual bits of green slime were put into a maze with food placed at each entrance, the pieces joined up, found the shortest route between the entrances of the maze and shared the food.

Following the talk there were questions from the audience such as ‘Is reason enough to stop global warming?’ and ‘How does God fit into all of this?’

David Haines of Singtastic had been asked by Chris to write a song especially for the book launch.  He wrote two because he didn’t want to go along the patter patter route of the elements song.  I noticed as I went to the Singtastic site to get their link that I appear in one of the photos!!!

Chris has a great depth of knowledge, understanding and insight.  It was a privilege to hear him speak and also lovely to be able to have a quick chat with him during the book signing after the event.

Now I need to finish reading Chris’s book so I can tell you what I think about it :-)

I will leave you to enjoy the songs from the evening, along with the artwork from the book…

7 Comments CherryPie on Oct 14th 2009

7 Responses to “Spending Time at the Royal Institution”

  1. Phidelm says:

    Very interesting post, Cherie – love your detailed description of the context, as well as the songs. Now looking forward to having a look at that book myself; but your review will, of course, be more than helpful.
    PS What topic of military history?

  2. jameshigham says:

    Not sure green slime fits in with the mood, Cherie.

  3. jameshigham says:

    Noticed the “Northumbrian”. :)

  4. [...] of the interesting creatures that I learned about when I attended Christopher Lloyd’s lecture at the Royal Institution was the slime mould. He explained how individual pieces joined together to find the quickest, most [...]