The chemistry and wonder of Faraday’s candle
These days, candles are rarely seen outside of churches, romantic dinners, birthday cakes and blackouts. But what if something so simple could be fundamental in demonstrating the laws of the universe?
Michael Faraday saw something beautiful in the chemistry of a candle and people flocked to hear about it. Now, Bernard Caleo, Carly Siebentritt and Chris Krishna-Pillay hope that modern audiences will look away from advanced technology to see this same beauty in something so simple through their show Faraday’s Candle.
When asked why they decided to dramatize Faraday’s lectures, the answer quickly became clear: Society has changed, as has our expectation of entertainment. If somebody advertised public chemistry lectures right now, I know very few people who would attend. Theatre brings these ideas to an arena where people expect to be entertained, not simply informed.
Chris (CSIRO Education Victoria), the director of the play, said that he hopes people will discover in themselves a sense of curiosity. Although it isn’t often rewarded, this curiosity is integral to science itself. If we don’t ask questions, it is very rare that we will find answers.
Although the original lectures were aimed at children, producer Carly (also CSIRO Education Victoria) says that they wrote Faraday’s Candle for an adult audience “because adults miss out on a lot of good things, particularly in science!” Despite this, five and eighty-five year olds alike have already been entranced by the show and the fascinating experiments conducted – although they won’t tell us what. Due to this adult focus, however, it must be noted that sitting still for extended periods of time is required.
We’ve been assured that next time you have a romantic dinner, you’ll have so much to tell your date that success is guaranteed! Writer and actor Bernard (Melbourne Museum public programs) believes that those who come away from the show should be ‘candle converts’ and will hopefully rediscover how fascinating candles are. If audiences begin to think about the world in a more logical way, the team will be satisfied.
You don’t need a background in chemistry to understand the show. On the contrary, it was originally a part of the Victorian re-science project, aiming to engage people who don’t consider themselves interested in science. From what I’ve heard, it’s sure to be interesting either way.
Faraday’s Candle will once again communicate the principles behind the chemistry of a candle not just to academics but to a wider general audience once again highlighting the importance of communicating scientific ideas. And in case this show helps to spark a ‘candle renaissance’? Perhaps you should buy shares in a candle company.
Don’t forget to book tickets to see the show which is running from Thursday 8 till Saturday 10 March.
By Imogen Lee @Imagine_Imogen
View the event page – Adelaide Fringe 2012: Faraday’s Candle (theatre) (8-10 March 2012)