Nate suspended in mid air with a rope.

Have you ever been to the Circus and wondered what it takes for the performers to effortlessly fly through the air? It takes quite a lot of strength, but aerialists also need to use science and engineering to keep themselves from falling to the ground. This brand new science show uses LIVE demonstrations of aerial silks and rope to explore how, by exploiting some fundamental forces, a sprinkling of natural and man made wonder materials, and a LOT of biology, we can define gravity and then defy it!

Photo: Cheltenham Science Festival
Photo: Cheltenham Science Festival

Audiences love this talk as it’s a completely new experience – it uses live gravity defying stunts, high in the air, to explore the world of circus. From mathematically defining gravity with a bit of help from Miley Cyrus, to dramatic drops demonstrating the extreme forces the body and apparatus experience, to a 10 minute sequence in the air exploring the nanoscale biology in our cells which allows us all to move, this is unlike anything else seen in scicomm. With content spanning fundamental physics, materials chemistry and human biology there are a wide variety of topics on discussion. I’ve avoided the usual route of exploring spinning and momentum which is usually explored in science circus talks, instead focusing on the biological aspects of the skills on display.

The show is interactive, with audience volunteers helping to calculate gravity, mucking about with friction and learning how to do the classic tablecloth trick.

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The development of this work has been supported by grants from Victoria Works who have provided training space and creative direction, and the Biochemical Society who have supported the purchase of my rope and training and development on rope.