Professor Danielle George to make sparks fly in 2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES®

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19 Aug 2014

An electrical engineer from The University of Manchester is set to deliver the Royal Institution 2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

Professor Danielle George - photographer Paul Wilkinson

Professor Danielle George will present the demonstration packed, three-part series called ‘Sparks will fly: How to hack your home’ at the Royal Institution of Great Britain which will air on BBC FOUR this Christmas.

The Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering, who specialises in radio frequency and microwave communications, will reveal how viewers can change the world from their very own home by taking control of the devices we use every day. She will take three great British inventions – a light bulb, a telephone and a motor – and demonstrate how viewers can adapt, transform and ‘hack’ them to do extraordinary things. This is tinkering for twenty-first century.

Danielle, who grew up in Newcastle, said: “When I was eight years old I was given a telescope by my parents and I was fascinated - I would get up in the middle of the night to watch lunar eclipses. It was the first time I realised how mathematics and physics could be used in a practical and useful way and I knew immediately that this kind of hands-on investigation was what I wanted to do in life.

“Today’s generation of young people are in a truly unique position. The technology we use and depend on every day is expanding and developing at a phenomenal rate and so our society has never been more equipped to be creative and innovative. I want young people to realise that that they have the power to change the world right from their bedroom, kitchen table or garden shed.

“If we all take control of the technology and systems around us, and think creatively, then solving some of the world’s greatest challenges is only a small step away. I believe everyone has the potential to be an inventor!”

Gail Cardew, Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution said: “Our aim with ‘Sparks will fly: how to hack your home’ is to bring to life the incredible ingenuity, innovation and creativity of engineering. I am delighted that Danielle is presenting this year’s lectures and I am sure that the passion and energy she has for her profession will inspire a whole new generation of engineers.”

Filmed in front of a live audience in the iconic theatre at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the original science events for children were started by Michael Faraday in 1825 and have long been seen as a favourite British Christmas tradition. Since 1825, Lectures have been given by many distinguished scientists including Nobel Prize winners William and Lawrence Bragg, Sir David Attenborough, Carl Sagan, Lord George Porter and Dame Nancy Rothwell.

Danielle will be the sixth woman to present the prestigious CHRISTMAS LECTURES and the second in a row following Professor Alison Woollard who presented Life Fantastic in 2013.

‘Sparks will fly: How to hack your home’ was commissioned by BBC FOUR and BBC Learning. Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC FOUR said: “I am tremendously excited by the year's lectures from the Royal Institution. As an inveterate electronics tinkerer in my youth, I think these lectures by Danielle - on how you can co-opt everyday tech to all kinds of wild and wonderful uses - will be both stimulating and enthralling. I'll be watching avidly.

The 2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES are produced by Windfall Films for BBC FOUR.

Tickets to the filming of the CHRISTMAS LECTURES are available by ballot to members and fellows of the Royal Institution and UK registered schools only. Information about the different levels of Ri membership available and apply for tickets.

See here for more information on the entire series. You can watch past CHRISTMAS LECTURES for free on the Ri’s science video channel

Notes for editors

For further information please contact:
Hayley Burwell
Head of Marketing and Communications
Royal Institution
tel: 020 7670 2991
Katie Brewin
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
University of Manchester
tel: 0161 275 8155

Image shows: Professor Danielle George please credit Paul Wilkinson

2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES® Sparks will fly: How to hack your home

A revolution is happening. Across the world people are taking control of the devices we use every day, customising them, creating new things and using the sparks of their imagination to change the world. Now it’s your turn, and you can start with the things you have around you. 
Electrical engineer, Prof Danielle George will take three great British inventions – a light bulb, a telephone and a motor – and show you how to adapt them and transform them to do extraordinary things. This is tinkering for the twenty-first century, using the full array of cutting edge devices that we can lay our hands on: 3D printers, new materials, online collaboration and controlling devices through coding.
Inspired by the great inventors and standing on the shoulders of thousands of people playing at their kitchen table or in their shed, Danielle will announce the new rules of invention and show you how to use modern tools and technologies and things from your home to have fun and make a difference to the world around you.
Anything could happen. Sparks will fly.
Lecture 1: The Light Bulb Moment
Filming Date: Thursday 11 December 2014
1878. Geordie inventor Joseph Swan demonstrates the first working light bulb. Now in 2014 we can find tiny LED’s in almost everything we own.  So can we use a humble light bulb to start our own imaginative, creative process? Danielle will announce the new rules of invention and show you how to use modern tools and technologies to have fun and make a difference to the world around you.
Lecture 2: Making Contact
Filming Date: Saturday 13 December 2014
It was Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell who first managed to get the world’s first telephone to transmit speech – and now we carry these amazing devices around in our pockets! We’re now connected to everyone else in the world, so can we use these networks to solve problems? Danielle will innovate to make astonishing connections that Bell could only have dreamed of.
Lecture 3: A New Revolution
Filming Date: Tuesday 16 December 2014
The Royal Institution’s very own Michael Faraday demonstrated the world’s first motor in 1822 – now we are surrounded by devices that spin, swing and saw. Engineers often find themselves in a cycle of prototyping, testing and perfecting, so can we use these principles to turn a motor into something world changing? Danielle will use her imagination and the new rules of invention to move things in ways that Faraday could only have dreamed of.
About Professor Danielle George
Prof Danielle George is Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and a Professor in the Microwave and Communications Systems research group at the University of Manchester. She completed her BSc in Astrophysics, MSc in Radio Astronomy at The Victoria University of Manchester based at Jodrell Bank Observatory, and her PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with UMIST.  She worked at Jodrell Bank Observatory as a senior Radio Frequency Engineer until 2006 when she took up a lectureship post in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. She was awarded a Professorship earlier this year at the age of 38. 
Danielle’s expertise in radio frequency and microwave communications has a wide range of applications across a number of industries. To date most of her research and development work has been carried out on a variety of aspects relating to ultra low noise receivers for Space and Aerospace applications. She is the UK lead for amplifiers in the $1B astronomical instrument, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the $1B Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope and has worked with NASA and ESA on the development of instrumentation for researchers exploring the Big Bang. She has worked with agriculturists on the development of instrumentation to measure water usage, and with a number of multi-national companies such as Rolls Royce where she worked on industrial gas turbine engines.
She thoroughly enjoys the teaching aspects of her career and lectures to both undergraduates and postgraduate students, in particular Electronic Circuit Design to undergraduates and Microwave Systems to MSc students. She is passionate about raising public awareness of the positive impact engineering has on all aspects of our everyday lives and highlighting to young people the immense depth and breadth of opportunities a career in engineering can offer.
The middle one of three sisters, Danielle grew up in Newcastle where her parents still live. Fascinated by science from an early age, she was given a telescope by her parents when she was eight years old and would regularly get up in the middle of the night to watch lunar eclipses. She credits this experience as the moment she first realised how physics and mathematics could be applied in a practical sense outside the classroom and as the first step on her path to her current career.
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