The Nature of Things - Rubber and Plastics
About this video
Lawrence Bragg explores the Nature of Things.
Coates recalled Bragg once remarking to him: ‘never talk about science, show it to them', which is what The Nature of Things set out to do. Like the Christmas Lectures, the programmes were structured around a series of demonstrations and were filmed as a 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.
The fifth programme in the series, 'Rubber and Plastics' explores the properties of polymers – molecules composed of repeating structures, typically connected by covalent bonds. As Bragg puts it, they are the chemical equivalent of a pessimistic men wearing "both braces and a belt" and tying them to each other.
With Ri demo technician George Coates he presents a series of live demos to reveal the unique structure of polymers and rubber as well as creating a number of different plastics and artificial fibres.
There are some delightful anachronisms here – from the wonder shown by the audience at the "marvellous new substances" (some flown in especially from America) to Bragg's address to the male members of the audience about the benefits of artificial fibres when "smoking our pipes at home". The smoking theme continues as George Coates creates a plastic ash tray and their last demo is particularly delightful with members of the very formal audience stretch rubber bands across their foreheads.
View more Nature of Things episodes in the Ri Archive Collection.
- Sir William Lawrence Bragg, William Coates
- London, UK
- Filmed in:
- The Theatre
The Royal Institution
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