We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University News



Public invited to experiment with research

(16 September 2009)

School children, with Jon Tickle, experiment with custard

School children, with Jon Tickle, experiment with custard

How do you make a hurricane from fire? Which food really is comforting? What is it that makes us so tired? And what happens to a gherkin when it’s electrocuted?

These are some of the questions that will be answered at the UK’s first Researchers’ Night tonight(25 September).

The free event aims to open up the interesting and often quirky world of research through an evening of fun and interactive demonstrations, dispelling some of the myths about who researchers are and what they do.

Organised by Durham University in association with Science Learning Centre North East and hosted by Newcastle’s Great North Museum, the evening sees over 40 researchers join forces with the comedy of the Punk Scientists and the Naked Scientists radio show to create a vibrant evening of activities celebrating the human face of research.

The Researchers’ Night is an annual European event, funded by the European Commission. It is designed to give the public the chance to explore the world of research for themselves through hands-on demonstrations, interactive debates, music, comedy and experiments.

The event, called 'Researchers Revealed', will take place on Friday 25 September from 6pm until 10.30pm and is open to everybody. It is the first to be held in the UK.

TV presenter, ex-Big Brother contestant, and scientist, Jon Tickle, is host for the evening. Highlights include a live Kitchen Science experiment with the Naked Scientists; a farmer’s market of researcher demonstrations; and performances by the Punk Scientists.

Jon, co-presenter on the television series ‘Brainiac Science Abuse’, said: “Research is brilliant not boring! Without research we wouldn’t have inventions like TVs, iPods and cars. And we wouldn’t have seen the huge advancements in life changing areas like medicine and health. We are all born curious and through research we can discover more about the world we live in.

“That’s what this researchers’ night is all about – capturing people’s imagination, getting them involved in science, and spreading excitement about research.”

Earlier today, school children from St Catherine’s RC Primary School, Sandyford, Beech Hill Primary School, Westerhope, and Newker Primary School, Chester-le-Street, enjoyed a taster of what the evening has to offer.

The children witnessed the creation of a ‘fire tornado’ – a spinning pillar of flame, explaining how hurricanes work – and custard that changes from liquid to solid when you add energy to it.

Part of the event features an internationally-acclaimed fashion exhibition, Primitive Streak, which comprises of a series of dresses by designer Helen Storey, that represent the first 1,000 hours of human life, inspired by Helen’s sister, bio-geneticist Dr Kate Storey.

Helen said: “I am delighted to be involved in this researchers’ night. There are so few initiatives which give the public their rightful access to the wonder of the world of research, and in ways that aren’t elitist or overly complicated.

“I believe that everybody, in their own way, is a researcher in any case. Anyone curious about the world, and how and why it works, and sometimes doesn’t, should be fascinated by this event.”

The organisers hope the event will highlight the important role research has to play in our lives and encourage more people to consider a career in research.

Event organiser Paula Martin, Durham University’s Science Outreach Co-ordinator, said: “This is a UK first and a fantastic opportunity for the public to participate in a fun and entertaining event showcasing the very best of the regions research community.

“There will be the chance to take part in a wide range of activities including finding out answers to scientific questions from ‘why do birds fly?’ and ‘what happens when you blow up a gherkin?’"

Booking is not required for the event. For more information visit


Share this story