The Nature of Things - Opposites Attract
Electric chargeElectric charge
Wimshurst MachineWimshurst Machine
Van de Graaff generatorVan de Graaff generator
Should a Person Touch 200,000 Volts? A Van de Graaff generator experimentShould a Person Touch 200,000 Volts? A Van de Graaff generator experiment
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About this video
Hair-raising electrostatic experiments.
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' explores 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.
- Sir William Lawrence Bragg, William Coates
- London, UK
- Filmed in:
- The Theatre
The Royal Institution
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