Guy Fawkes didn’t succeed in setting off a chemical reaction under the Houses of Parliament in 1605, but nearly 410 year later, North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson met the first scientist ever to be allowed to carry out explosive experiments in the House of Commons at an event organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry in Parliament.
And whilst there are occasional temper tantrums and explosive behaviour in debates, Justin’s engagement with representatives of the learned society were a lot more civilised, though no less exciting.
They talked about the importance of scientific research to the UK economy and North Swindon, and took part in some loud and colourful chemistry experiments performed by Dr Hal Sosabowski from the University of Brighton.
TV scientist Dr Sosabowski previously launched UNESCO’s International Year of Chemistry at the Houses of Parliament with a show of chemistry demonstrations back in 2011.
MPs witnessed the excitement of chemistry first-hand, as Dr Sosabowski showed off the science behind glow sticks, a liquid nitrogen shower and a flaming methane mamba of soap bubbles. However behind the colourful chemicals and exciting explosions, the event was an important opportunity to discuss the need for a long-term strategy for UK science funding to drive economic growth and create jobs.
Justin said: "The Royal Society of Chemistry do some truly amazing work across the country in encouraging people, particularly our younger generation, to look at a future in the science. Today’s demonstrations were very impressive and it was really interesting to hear about how science can help our economic recovery and create jobs."
The Royal Society of Chemistry‘s President, Professor Lesley Yellowlees, commented: "Britain is a world leader in science. The chemical sector alone sustains 500,000 jobs across the country. We want to see a commitment from all sides of the debate to increase total investment in research in the long-term to set Britain back on the path to science-fuelled growth."