Are you in the United States?

Switch to Twig Science to check out our NGSS product.

An Ancient Olympian

The 2012 Olympics are taking place in London, and to celebrate the arrival of the games 8000 torchbearers from all around the UK will be carrying the Olympic flame in the 70 days leading up to the opening ceremony. The lighting of the torch in the arena signals the beginning of the largest, and one of the oldest, athletic competitions in the world. Tradition dictates that the flame must burn for the duration of the games and is extinguished only at their close.

The torch for 2012 has been created by two London-based designers who have integrated artistic and aesthetic features with a practical use of science.

The torch will be carried over thousands of miles and through all the weather Britain has to offer. For this reason it needs to be hard-wearing as well as light enough to be held up by any of the torchbearers. The torch weighs just 800 grams thanks to the lightweight aluminium alloy that makes up both its inner and outer skins. In addition, it has 8000 circular perforations making it even more lightweight, whilst remaining strong.

The aluminium alloy and the holes also serve another purpose – protecting the bearer. Aluminium, like all metals, conducts heat meaning that the thermal energy from the naked flame of the torch could easily travel to the hand of the bearer. However, the holes mean that the transfer of energy cannot take place as easily. It allows a cooling wind to pass through the gaps in the metal torch making sure that it never gets too hot to handle.

The triangular shape of the torch represents the Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship; the Olympic motto of faster, higher, stronger; and also marks that this is the third time of hosting the games for the city of London. It also ensures that the torch is easy to hold and will be able to protect the burner system inside to ensure that from Orkney to Land’s End, the light never goes out.