British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Opposites Attract

Synopsis
A series of outside broadcasts filmed by the BBC at the Royal Institution in the late 1950s and early 1960s, The Nature of Things was presented by William Lawrence Bragg with the assistance of Bill Coates.

Coates recalled Bragg once remarking to him: ‘never talk about science, show it to them’, and The Nature of Things set out to do just that. Like the Christmas Lectures, the programmes were structured around a series of demonstrations and were filmed as a sequential lecture in the Ri’s theatre. Although the filming took place with an audience of adults, the series was aimed at children and broadcast on children’s television.

'Opposites Attract’ demonstrates electrostatic experiments by exploring the properties of electrical charge through a variety of visual and hands-on experiments. By making things stick together or move apart, Bragg breaks down popular misconceptions to demonstrate the true nature of positive and negative charge, conductors and insulators as well as the largest electrical machine of all: thunderstorms.

Lab Technician Bill Coates is on hand to set up a variety of instruments including a Wimshurst Machine, a Van de Graaf generator and a 100 hundred old mysterious object referred to as a "game sucker" (see 6:10).

Although dated in terms of the rather clipped presentation style - not to mention the use of a cigarette in one experiment - the series proves the enduring legacy of the many science demonstrations pioneered at the Royal Institution. (20 minutes)
Series
The Nature of Things, Series
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
2012
Year of production
1959
Subjects
Media studies; Physics
Keywords
archive television; electrostatics; laboratory experiments

Online availability

URI
http://richannel.org/the-nature-of-things--opposites-attract
Price
free
Delivery
Streamed

Credits

Contributor
Lawrence Bragg

Production Company

Name

BBC Television

Distributor

Name

Royal Institution, The

Email
ri@ri.ac.uk
Web
http://www.rigb.org/ External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7409 2992
Address
21 Albemarle Street
London
W1S 4BS

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