“Today’s Lunar Society has several hundred members and includes leading practitioners from all walks of life in Birmingham and the wider region, people who are prepared to help shape the scientific, political and social agenda not just here in Birmingham and the West Midlands, but nationally and internationally.”
“It must have been a thrill. Something like TEDTalks with Stilton. Writes Adam Hart-Davis:
The Lunar Society believed in argument and cooperation. They had long discussions about why thunder rumbles and decided the best way to test their various theories was by experiment. Boulton made a 5-foot-diameter balloon from varnished paper, and they filled it with a terrifying mixture of air and hydrogen (”inflammable air from iron”). They lit a fuse underneath, released the balloon into the night sky on a calm, clear evening and waited for the bang. Unfortunately, the fuse was rather long, and they all assumed it must have gone out; so they began to talk among themselves, when there was a colossal explosion, and they all said, “There it goes!” and forgot to listen for the rumble! Watt was at home 3 miles away and wrote that the bang was “instantaneous, and lasted about one second.” This seems self-contradictory, but in any case, the experiment failed to produce a simple answer to the original question.
There you have it: science, explosions, debate, optimism, politics, technology, curiosity. The future started more than two hundred years ago.”