Astronomer to lecture non-stop for 140 hours to break world record

Norfolk astronomer and TV presenter Mark Thompson is getting ready to attempt to break the record fo

Norfolk astronomer Mark Thompson is getting ready to attempt to break the record for the world's longest marathon lecture. Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

A Norfolk astronomer is attempting to break the Guinness world record for the longest marathon lecture this month.

Mark Thompson, co-presenter of BBC Stargazing Live, hopes to break the current record of 139 hours, 42 minutes, and 56 seconds by lecturing non-stop for six days.

The astronomy broadcaster and author has previously given in after staying awake for two nights.

He said: "I stayed up for about 62 hours and then gave a one-hour lecture at the end of it all which let me see how well I'd cope with lecturing after depriving myself of sleep.

"There are two challenges here: Staying awake and keeping my voice working the whole time.


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"I've been working with a vocal coach to learn some stretches and exercises to help with my voice."

For every hour of the challenge, the rules of the record allow the lecturer a five minute break.

Norfolk astronomer, author and BBC Stargazing Live co-presenter Mark Thompson.

The astronomer will eat a special diet for the event prepared by a nutritional advisor. - Credit: Archant

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To tackle the issue of sleep, Mr Thompson plans to save up his breaks.

He added: "I plan to talk for two hours, use five minutes of my break and save the other five.

"If I keep doing this, I'll eventually get to a point where I'll have 90 minutes to sleep.

"I can stop talking for up to 30 seconds when lecturing, but more than that and I'd have to consider it a break."

Mr Thompson's breaks will not be full of rest, however.

The lecturer will be taking on a variety of tasks to track how our body deals with a lack of sleep, including swallowing ingestible thermometers, performing cognitive tests and having his photo taken every two hours.

Mark Thompson at the Forum

Mark Thompson's attempt needs audience members throughout the duration of the event. - Credit: Archant

The other important rule that affects the record is that the lecture must have an audience at all times.

The astronomer said: "The whole thing is going to be livestreamed on my YouTube but I’ve got to have an audience member at all times for it to be classed as a lecture.

"So, for the record to be broken I really need people to book and be a part of it."

The event will take place at the University of East Anglia and is completely free.

Tickets are available for four-hour slots and can be booked on Mr Thompson's website.

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