Photo: Peter Williamson and Revd Anna Sorensen taking part in Galileo's theory of mass and acceleration! 

On Saturday 25th April St Peter’s Church in Ropsley (near Grantham) will be bringing together science and Christianity as they celebrate the work of a number of eminent scientists with a series of workshops, interactive demonstrations and experiments that showcase their work. And what better way of showing Galileo’s theory of mass and acceleration than dropping a few weighted tennis balls out of the pulpit.

Other scientists being celebrated on the day include codebreaker Alan Turing, James Clerk Maxwell who is regarded as being the founder of the field of electrical engineering and George Boole who is credited with laying the foundations of the information age. 

The ‘Science in the Church’ day is the brainchild of Revd Anna Sorensen and Peter Williamson, who is both a worshipper at the church and a computing and science enthusiast. Peter is well equipped for the challenge having volunteered at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park for many years and latterly at Woolsthorpe Manor (near Grantham) where Newton was born.

The day is aimed at both children and adults alike and Newton’s theories will be demonstrated using a variety of interactive exhibits. Activity kits can be purchased for £2.50 on the day that will include refraction spectacles which will show users how you see colour, and how white is formed from other colours; a kit to make a Newton’s colour wheel; a mystery calculator game and a decoding puzzle where items within the church are shown as binary code on paper tape that has to be decoded to text.

Roving around the church on a designated course will be a three-wheeled robot which participants will also be able to programme to move in a variety of different ways.   For those interested in codes and cyphers, Peter has an electronic Enigma machine which although not mechanical, works in principle like the original machine, and people will be invited to tap out codes to send messages to one another using the same type of encryption used during the WW2.  

In the evening there will be two lectures – one on the life of Isaac Newton by a guide from the National Trust who works at Woolsthorpe Manor and another by Peter on Britain’s role in computing.

Revd Anna Sorensen, vicar at St Peter’s said: “We are all really looking forward to our science day and are very lucky to have such a talented person as Peter in our congregation who is sharing his gifts with us. As part of our outreach programme we work with our local school and are delighted that one of the local teachers will be joining us on the day to help inspire our young people.

“People may not be aware that Sir Isaac Newton had a deep religious faith in addition to being a scientist so we hope to show that science and religion are not so diametrically opposite after all.”

Peter Williamson said: “I am very pleased to be involved with the ‘Science in the Church’ day. The work of these great scientists is just as relevant today as it was when they first developed their theories. Newton’s work underpins anything that moves whether that is how much force is needed to move a car or stop a bridge from collapsing.

“I hope it will be both fun and educational and what I really would like is for everyone to come along and to question and think ‘Why does it do that?’ Developing that sense of curiosity and enquiry in children will produce the scientists of tomorrow.

“As a man who believes in God but also someone who loves science I want to show that the church is open to science and is looking into the future and that these two things are not mutually exclusive.”

The ‘Science in the Church’ day will start at 10am and finish at X. Entry is £2 per person for adults £1 for children. Pre-school children are free. A family ticket can be purchased for £5. The evening talks start at 7.30pm and are £10 for both with complementary refreshments. 

Tickets are available from Karen on 01476 585580.

This story was published on Tuesday 17th March 2020.