CrowdScience listener Alix has a burning question - what’s actually happening inside the flames of a campfire to make it glow? And why do some materials burn easily, while others refuse to light at all?

To find out, Alex Lathbridge travels to the Fire Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh to (safely) set various things ablaze. He learns about the fundamentals of fire and why things react differently to heat. He then heads to archives of the Royal Institution of London, to see an invention from the 19th century that can stop a fireball in its tracks: the miner’s safety lamp, which saved countless lives. And he speaks to a chemist about the science of flame retardants, and how even though they can make products less flammable, they may also have unintended consequences.

Presenter: Alex Lathbridge

Producer: Anand Jagatia


Dr Rory Hadden, University of Edinburgh

Charlotte New, Royal Institution

Dan Plane, Royal Institution

Professor Richard Hull, University of Central Lancashire

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