I got into science when I was 10, the Northern Lights will inspire a generation, says TV star

TELLY astronomer Mark Thompson was inspired to study science after seeing Saturn’s rings as a child – but now believes a whole new generation of scientists have been enlightened by the Northern Lights.

The Stargazing Live and One Show presenter marveled at the incredible images of the Northern Lights which lit up the skies over Scotland earlier this month.

Northern Lights will inspire children Mark Thompson became addicted to science at the age of 10

And he hopes it will get kids interested in the wider world and universe like he was after peering into space through a telescope when he was 10.

Mark, 50, from Norfolk, East Anglia, says: “Seeing Saturn inspired me to take an interest in the night sky and science in general.

“The Northern Lights seen from Scotland looked really good, better than most people in the UK.

“So I’m sure there will be kids inspired by it. They definitely need something with spice to grab their attention.

But with scientists predicting that cars could run on batteries powered by baking powder or sea salt within 10 years, we ask Mark what other amazing technological advances we might expect to see in the near future.

* Mark Thompson’s award-winning children’s show Spectacular Science – featuring explosions, pyrotechnics and funky experiments – arrives at the Theater Royal in Dumfries on April 7 and the Brunton Theater in Musselburgh the following day.


I HAVE faith that science could solve many of the world’s problems – if the will is there to see it through.

Harnessing more power from the sun is possible

For example, you could harness the power of the sun for the energy needs of the entire planet.

The science is already available, but the engineering to get there would be very difficult.

But on the whole, science can and will fix things – you just have to have the political will to use it.


SCIENCE has addressed so many major issues throughout history from diseases that were a problem in the past but are now eradicated.

One day we will beat cancer

Of course, it was scientists who came up with a Covid vaccine and I suspect they will have to collude to do the same for another virus in 20 years.

But someday we will overcome cancer and we will overcome dementia, but then there will always be something to replace them.

Sorry, but that means we’ll never reach the stage of immortality, like you see in the movies.


There is going to be a sea change in electricity generation and storage, with everyone having their own solar panels and batteries over the next few years.

But we still need a good step forward when it comes to cars.

We see that electric cars have become more common on the streets, but we are still a long way from becoming a truly viable and affordable product for the majority of people.

Battery technology is also going to have to improve for people like me. I own a van for all the equipment I need to lug around for my science exhibits. I want an electric – but with a range over 100 miles.


I BELIEVE there will be major advancements in mobile phones as far as interaction is concerned.

Smartphones will get smarter

A smartwatch can currently detect your heart rate, but it doesn’t come close to being able to detect your mood.

If technology is there to predict your mood, the next logical step is to figure out what you need.

For example, your phone and smartwatch will know which movie and music you like better than you simply based on how your mood changes when you watch or listen to them.


I’d like to see time travel become a thing like in Back to the Future when Doc Brown invents the flux capacitor.

Theoretically, time travel is possible because when you look at the sun, you see light from eight minutes ago.

When you look at the moon that was just over a second ago. And when you look at the galaxy, you see things as they were millions of years ago.

Designing how to move through time would be the tricky part – although having it in a DeLorean car would be nothing short of amazing.

How cool it would be to travel back in time and have debates with Leonardo da Vinci or explain to Galalio and Isaac Newton what we have since discovered about the universe and how it works.

Learn more about the Scottish Sun

But maybe there will be kids in my audience who will have a time like me and be inspired to dive deep into science.

And who knows, maybe one of them coming to see my shows will offer an actual flux capacitor in the future.

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