I’m really excited to have recieved tickets to go and see one of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures tomorrow.

As a scientist I regularly try and watch the lectures on the TV every year – and they always manage to amaze and inspire me with stuff I haven’t heard of before. Although aimed at school children I have always found that the lectures never dumb things down too much, and are just as informative for adults as well.

The lectures were started by Michael Faraday have been running since 1825! So it really is a long tradition.

This year’s theme is The 300 Years War with Prof Sue Hartley:

Plants might seem passive, defenceless and almost helpless. But they are most definitely not! Thanks to a war with animals that’s lasted over 300 million years, they’ve developed many terrifying and devious ways to defend themselves and attack their enemies. Vicious poisons, lethal materials and even cunning forms of communicating with unlikely allies are just some of the weapons in their armoury. Using these and other tactics, plants have seen off everything from dinosaurs to caterpillars.

In the 2009 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, Prof Sue Hartley will show you plants as you’ve never seen them before. They are complicated, cunning, beautiful and with plenty of tricks up their sleeve. And what’s more, we humans are dependent on them in ways you’d never imagine. As well as much of our food, our drugs, medicines and materials are all by-products of this epic 300 million year war.

If you want to see some of the past lectures, there is a video archive here (registration required)