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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - The Levitators: Trespassing the Air

4th February 2014, 17:30 to 18:30, Dowrick Suite, Trevelyan College, Professor Peter Adey, Royal Holloway, University of London

Things that float, things that rise up from the earth to hang in mid-air, things that become light concern this talk. In this lecture we will consider the levitators: the things, technologies, people, UFOs, and foreign bodies that have arisen, suspended. From ecstatic saints; magnet trains; rocket men; tightrope walkers; leaping artists; levitating lasers; yogic fliers, ominous UFOs; land art boulders; to the latest incarnation of superheroes in film, the levitators suspend our disbelief and trespass upon our sense of what should be there. Levitators challenge conventions of law, belief, psychology, science, reason, art and representation.

Shedding light on these suspended things, however, reveals the relationship between the objects that become light and the movement and passage of light itself. Levitators often glow, perhaps they are haloed, they shine, or are backlit - flaring in whatever camera captures their testimony. In this potted cultural and scientific history Professor Adey will argue that light is what holds the levitator up.

Directions to Trevelyan College

Map - Trevelyan College is denoted as building No: 9

Lecture is free to attend and open to all.


Contact for more information about this event.