Things to do this week: 24 – 30 December 2016

Looking for the best things to do this week? Don’t waste away being bored on the sofa… here’s our pick of ways to exercise your grey matter and nourish your neurons.

23rd December 2016
Natural History Museum Ice Rink © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

#BrainFood brings you the best shows on TV and radio, science apps and books to activate your mind, and fun events to visit. This week: get your skates on, watch the Christmas Lectures, and make some festive gifs.


Royal Institution Christmas Lectures © BBC/Windfall/Paul Wilkinson
© BBC/Windfall/Paul Wilkinson

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

BBC Four, Mon 26 – Weds 28 Dec, 8:00-9:00pm

Nearly 200 years after they were started, the Royal Institution’s annual lectures are still going strong. Our host this year is Saiful Islam, Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Bath. He’ll be exploring energy in all its forms, so expect plenty of live experiments, including an attempt to break the world record for the most powerful lemon battery.


The Infinite Monkey Cage Christmas Special © BBC/Richard Ansett
© BBC/Richard Ansett

The Infinite Monkey Cage Christmas Special

BBC Radio 4, Tues 27 Dec, 9:00-9:45am

Brian Cox and Robin Ince help us get our brains back into gear after the festivities. They’re joined by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, actor and writer Mark Gatiss, cultural anthropologist Deborah Hyde and the Bishop of Leeds to discuss the joys of the Christmas ghost story and the pseudoscience of the paranormal.


13 Journeys Through Space and Time © Michael O’Mara Books
© Michael O’Mara Books

13 Journeys Through Space and Time

Colin Stuart, Michael O’Mara Books, £12.99

Journey through the cosmos via 13 of the Royal Institution’s most fascinating Christmas Lectures. Ranging from Sir Robert Stawell Ball’s 1881 lecture "The Sun, the Moon and the Planets" to last year’s "How to survive in space" by Kevin Fong, this book is packed full of original BBC photographs, excerpts from the lecture transcripts and press cuttings. Perfect with a slice of Christmas cake.


Natural History Museum Ice Rink © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

London, until 8 Jan 2017, £8.80 / £12.65

There’s still time to get your skates on at the Natural History Museum’s outdoors ice rink. Combine your visit with a trip to the museum itself, where you can still see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, and say goodbye to Dippy the Diplodocus before she’s retired from the museum’s Hintze Hall on 4 January.


Giphy Cam © Giphy
© Giphy

Giphy Cam

iOS/Android, Giphy, free

Send festive gifs to your friends with this addictive app, now available on Android. Press and hold the red button to record a video, then spruce them up with filters, accessories, stickers and text galore. The latest iOS version even includes augmented reality stickers which automatically follow your face as you move.

For more fabulous apps, check out our list of the top 10 science apps for Android and iOS.


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