Professor Eric Laithwaite presents his second televised series of CHRISTMAS LECTURES® exploring the world of engineering.

A sequel to his 1966 series, 'The Engineer in Wonderland', Laithwiate was the first person to present two series of Lectures on national television.

His overriding theme running through series is that “Science is exciting, curiosity its bait”. Just as Lewis Caroll’s Alice peered down the rabbit hole and went through the mirror, Laithwaite describes the engineer’s target as the “seemingly impossible”.

As he states in his programme notes:

"There may be no crown at the end for those who step through the glass, as there was for Alice, but if the delight is there, the journey itself is the reward".  

His five lectures explore the varied work of engineers across gravitation, inertia and electromagenitism, including the controversial Lecture Four where Laithwaite used the behavioural gyroscopes in an attempt to challenge the validity of Newton’s Laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics.

The series was the one hundred and forty-fifth course of six lectures for young people. They were broadcast live on the BBC from Saturday 23 December 1974 to Friday 3 January 1975.

Media Gallery

  • From the Ri Archive

    Eric Laithwaite presenting the 1974 Christmas Lectures.

    Image: The Royal Institution

  • From the Ri Archive

    Eric Laithwaite outside the Royal Institution building at 21 Albemarle Street, Christmas 1974.

    Image: The Royal Institution

  • From the Ri Archive

    Eric Laithwaite presenting the 1966 Christmas lectures.

    Image: Royal Institution

  • From the Ri Archive

    Eric Laithwaite presenting the 1966 Christmas lectures.

    Image: Royal Institution

Related link(s)

Related download(s)

CHRISTMAS LECTURES 1974 - The Engineer Through the Looking Glass

The wonder of engineering. By Professor Eric Laithwaite

Professor Eric Laithwaite

Image: The Royal Institution