Brian Clegg

Author of Light Years, A Brief History of Infinity, How to Build a Time Machine, Upgrade Me, Ecologic, Before the Big Bang and Inflight Science; Brian Clegg is available to give a range of engaging and entertaining talks aimed at pupils and teachers with an interest in science. He works regularly in schools, Cafe Scientifiques and science festivals and has also presented at the Royal Institution, the British Library and Science Museum Dana Centre in London.


TALKS - Key Stage 2

HOW DOES LIGHT WORK? - This lively session starts by stressing that light's much more than what we see with - it's what keeps us warm, gives us oxygen to breathe, and even fills our bodies in invisible webs of light. This leads on to discovering just what light is, and how it's different from anything else we experience.

HOW DOES STUFF WORK? - Matter, from basic atoms to quantum theory. How, for example, we can sit on a chair when both the person and the chair are mostly empty space. Gets in lots of basic physics, but coming at it from unexpected directions.

HOW DOES THE UNIVERSE WORK? - Where the universe came from, how we can possibly work that out, what's out there if you go far enough and why the aliens haven't come visiting yet. Cosmology always holds a fascination for a young audience.


TALKS - Key Stage 3 and above/adult

INFLIGHT SCIENCE - an enjoyable exploration of the science that you will experience on a plane journey, both in the flight itself and also in the view from your airplane window. From Newton’s laws to relativity, from fractals to cloud formation, there’s something fascinating every moment.

ECOLOGIC (image right) - linked to my book Ecologic, this talk/discussion looks at how our attitude to green issues from recycling and carbon footprints to Fairtrade and organic food tend to be influenced more by emotion than by logic. The talk provides students with a toolkit to take a more realistic, less black-and-white view of the environment.

WHO INVENTED SCIENCE? - based on my book The First Scientist and a debate I devised for the Royal Institution, this is an exploration of what science is. The talk hangs on key people who might be considered to be the first scientist - people like Archimedes, Roger Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo and even Maxwell. But apart from giving some entertaining insights into these key characters in the development of science it's also an opportunity to explore the nature of science and why we do it. Optionally we can have a vote at the end to see who the audience believe was the first scientist.

LIGHT YEARS - A historical journey from ancient times to the present day of that most amazing phenomenon, light. From the bizarre ideas of the ancient Greeks that light streamed from our eyes to modern experiments where light has been pushed past its own speed, and so backwards in time, or slowed to a stop, it's a fascinating subject. Packed with amazing aspects of light from its incredibly fast speed, unchanged by relativity to the way the very atoms of our body are held together by an invisible web of light.

BEFORE THE BIG BANG (image right) - Based on Brian's new book about the origins of the universe and what came before it, this talk gives the audience a chance to explore the most popular question asked of the British Science Association - what came before the Big Bang. The event starts with the creation myths and explores how we first began to realize the scale of the universe. From there we see how the Big Bang theory came into being and how it isn't quite as certain as it is often portrayed, looking at the best of the current alternative theories. As the title suggest, we also consider that perennial question, if there was a Big Bang, what came before it... and discover that the answer could be nothing at all.

THE SCIENCE THEY DIDN'T TEACH YOU IN SCHOOL - science in school sometimes seems to miss all the best bits. Pick any one from this set of talks, which includes key aspects of modern science and the science you need to make sense of the news headlines:


Quantum Theory

The Big Bang


Will the Large Hadron Collider end the world?

What's the science behind Climate Change?

What are the chances? Understanding probability and statistics from the National Lottery to misleading news reports

Bad Science - the truth behind the way everything from homeopathy to learning aids are sold using made-up science.


MEMORIES - most of us struggle with memory. But in this fun, interactive talk there's a chance to learn a little about how memory works and try out some practical techniques that will help you remember people's names, numbers and lists of information. It's a talk you can't fail to remember.

STUDYING USING THE WEB - Anyone can type a few keywords into a search engine and slavishly copy out the results. Based on Brian's book Studying Using the Web, this interactive session demonstrates how to find the right material, check its authenticity, transform it into your own original work and keep up-to-date on essential topics.

STUDYING CREATIVELY - Good ideas are essential for any student who wants to do well. This invaluable workshop gives you the tools you need to work creatively, and shows that creativity isn't just about getting good results, it's fun and gives you a real buzz.


Talks - Key Stage 4 and above/adult

HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE – we think of time travel as fiction, but there is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents us building a time machine. What’s more both relativity and quantum physics provide opportunities to travel through time. Although many of the potential solutions to time travel involve engineering feats that are far beyond us, there is no other topic that captures the imagination so dramatically – and it provides a great way to discover more about special and general relativity and quantum physics, topics that are central to our modern understanding of the universe but that are largely ignored at school.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF INFINITY - Where did the idea of infinity come from? Who were the people who defined and refined this paradoxical quantity? Why is infinity, a concept we can never experience or truly grasp, at the heart of science? How can some infinities be bigger than others? An exploration of the most mind-boggling feature of maths and physics, this talk examines amazing paradoxes and the people who devised and refined the concept.

THE MAN WHO STOPPED TIME - Eadweard Muybridge was an eccentric Victorian photographer who produced the first high speed motion photographs, analysed the movement of animals and humans, devised the first motion picture projector and ran the first cinema. He travelled out from his birthplace of Kingston upon Thames to the wild world of 1870s California, where he murdered his wife's lover. It's a story packed with drama and fascinating technological developments.


TALKS - all ages from reception to adult

WRITE NOW – What does it take to make a book? What does being an author involve? A highly interactive range of workshops for all ages from a short session for Key Stage 1 to a half day or full day for sixth forms. These events explore what is involved in being a writer from obtaining the first idea to producing and distributing the book and making translations. There’s lots of activity and inspiration along the way.

Plus a 1 to 1.5 hour event specially designed for school teachers:

CREATIVITY IN THE CLASSROOM - an inspiring look at creativity techniques and exercises that can be used in the classroom, including an opportunity to assess why you want to bring creativity into the classroom and an introduction to the nature of creativity and how creativity techniques work.

Contact Brian


Additional Information

Listed in the following categories: * STEM
* Literature » Author Visits
* Heritage and Cultures » History
The area/s in which this provider is available are:Greater London, East, East Midlands, Home Counties, Yorkshire, North of England, North West, South West, Wales, West Midlands

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