Public Events

No firm dates at the moment: watch this space.

To be kept up to date as new talks are added, just follow me on Twitter or 'like' my Facebook page and I will put details there as and when available. (Both available from the right hand column).

Arranging an event or a school visit

Brian is available to give a range of talks aimed both at school children and adults with an interest in science. He has given these at schools, Cafe Scientifiques, science festivals, the Royal Institution, the British Library and Science Museum Dana Centre in London. Details below - just drop Brian an email at to get more information.

Outside the UK? Brian is now available for Skype visits - email for more information.


Pricing is £180 for a one hour talk plus questions (£220 if in the evening), £280 for a half day or £400 for a full day. Travel expenses and VAT extra.

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. For adults there is a specific version on getting your non-fiction book published.
Talks - Key Stage 2 - click on title for more info
An introduction to 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, with practical demos, but coming at it from unexpected directions.
A fun introduction to what science is, what scientists do and how science is communicated. We recreate Newton’s rainbow, explore the different languages science is written about in and find out how a simple question like ‘How old are you?’ can have many answers, bringing in dinosaurs, exploding stars and the origins of the universe.
Talks - Key Stage 3 and above/adult - click on title for more info
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. Hear a recording of the How to Build a Time Machine talk, given as part of the Bath University external lecture programme:
Quantum physics is fundamental to our understanding of the world around us. Everything from the atoms in your body to the photons in a beam of light are quantum particles, which act bizarrely by appearing to be in many places at the same time or passing through barriers as if they're not there. Not only is this the basis of all matter and light, now a huge amount of technology depends on it - a smartphone contains at least seven different quantum technologies - yet most of us know little about this amazing science and the remarkable stories of the development of quantum applications from lasers to superconductors.

Based on Brian's 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.
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. Do you know why you can’t make a good cup of tea on a plane? Or that sat nav would be wrong by several kilometres in one day if they didn’t allow for relativity? All will be revealed.
Based on Brian's book The First Scientist and a debate he 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.
Most of us struggle with memory. But in this fun, interactive talk with plenty of activities, 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.
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.
Linked to Brian's 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.
Talks - Key Stage 4 and above/adult - click on title for more info
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.
This fascinating exploration of probability, statistics and randomness explains how chaos and randomness are often behind the realities of everyday life. We learn how to toss a head ten times in a row, how to make predictions with impossible accuracy, why people volunteer to give up thousands of pounds for no good reason, and a recreate a game show that left the woman with the world's highest IQ being reviled by a whole list of academics... until they discovered she was right. The video below is of my Dice World talk at The John Rylands Library as part of the Manchester Science Festival, courtesy of the Royal Society.

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.
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.

Drop Brian an email at to get more information on any event.