The Circus House gets involved in celebrating the discovery of Graphene in Manchester
You might be wondering what circus has to do with graphene. And you'd be right to wonder. But circus shows involve performers doing things that other people might think of as impossible. And when two professors at the University of Manchester managed to isolate graphene for the first time, the paper they submitted to share their findings was rejected for that very reason. What they said they had done was thought of as impossible.
Essentially the two professors had used sticky tape to peel flakes from a block of graphite. This is the same graphite that's inside all of our pencils, unless you're still using the old-fashioned poisonous lead ones (throw them away). So why was peeling off these flakes so amazing? Because some of them were only one atom thick. To put that into perspective, a human hair is 300 000 atoms thick.
Graphene is also 200 times stronger than steel, an incredible conductor, ultra flexible and very light. So when the professors' work was finally published it caused a global explosion of research into graphene. In 2010 the professors were awarded a Nobel Prize in physics for their work. They had done what was thought of as impossible.
So when the Museum of Science and Industry approached us to get involved with the events leading up to their Graphene Exhibition, we were honoured and excited. A key part of what we do here at The Circus House is inspiring and teaching people to go beyond the limits of what they believe is possible. We also think that the same optimism is a key part of Manchester's undeniable charm. So we started working with MOSI to contribute to a weekend of activities and performances that would welcome Manchester to come and celebrate graphene.
The weekend kicked off with The Friday Night Experiment: a late-night adult-only event. As well as a contortion act by Brendan and aerial performances by Jake and Sian, The Circus House brought together some of it's strongest to create a visually intense acrobalance routine. Using nothing but our own bodies, we drew attention to the benefits of graphene by demonstrating what could be achieved with increased strength and flexibility.
For the rest of the weekend the Museum of Science and Industry was transformed into a scientific funfair. There were people rolling round in giant plastic spheres on water. There was also bungee trampolining and giant inflatable slides. A talented team from our youth circus put on remarkable shows with trapeze acts, juggling and even a ballet of unicyclists. On the other side of the complex a few of our adult performers transformed one of the interior spaces into a 15th century workshop and masqueraded themselves as Sir Isaac Newton (Alex) and two of his assistants (Jake and Brendan). Here Sir Isaac Newton entertained large groups, teaching them about opposing forces and gravity by counterbalancing his assistants in a series of unusual positions. Sir Isaac then ended the session by teaching the entire audience how to spin a plate on a stick.
We had a tremendous time creating and performing these shows. Thank you to all of our performers, and thank you to MOSI. We hope you enjoy the photos below.