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The Big Bang Fair 2010

Activity: Public engagement and outreachFestival/Exhibition

Professor Jim Wild - Participant


Electric Earth at the Big Bang Science Fair

The Earth is alive with electricity! This show will take the audience on a high voltage journey deep into our planet’s electric personality.

The Earth is alive with electricity! This new show will take the audience on a high voltage journey deep into our planet’s electric personality. As well as familiar atmospheric electricity such as lightning, the Earth sits at the centre of an electric current circuit that stretches far out into space and is driven by our planet’s electromagnetic link to the Sun. The side-effects of this global flow of electricity, such as the spectacular northern lights, seem strange and mysterious, but this show demonstrates that the underlying physical processes are identical to those behind many commonplace phenomena and everyday technologies. Electric Earth combines multimedia and live demonstrations to explore the science behind planet Earth’s electric and magnetic activity.

Dr Jim Wild is an active space scientist working in the field of space weather and solar terrestrial physics. As well as working with range of satellite missions he also regularly visits the Arctic to carry out experiments to improve our understanding of the aurora borealis or “northern lights”. He is a passionate science communicator and demonstrates that science doesn’t just happen in the laboratory. His enthusiasm is used to full effect to show that lessons learned on the lab bench can lead to adventures in the land of the polar bear and journeys to other worlds.

The aim of the Electric Earth show is to demonstrate that the same basic physical laws control both familiar objects (e.g. televisions, fluorescent lamp tubes, neon shop-window displays, compasses, motors and dynamos) and exotic natural phenomena (e.g. the aurora borealis, planetary magnetic fields). Before scientists are able to explore the latter, it’s vital to understand the former. Key to our present day understanding of these complex natural processes are the early advances in electricity and magnetism made in the laboratories and workshops of inquisitive scientists over the last 400 years. The fundamental building blocks of the science in this area can be found in the “Energy, electricity and forces/radiation” sections of the KS3/4 science curricula while the results of present research into our Electric Earth tie into “The environment, Earth and universe” section of the curricula.


TitleThe Big Bang Fair 2012
CountryUnited Kingdom