Anthony J. Ryan

3 Millenia of Condoms

Condoms can be traced back to the year 1000 BC. Condoms protect from disease and infection, as well as preventing pregnancy. Vulcanised rubber was first used to produce condoms in the 19th century. in the 1930s, liquid latex took over and “pre-vulcanised latex” is still the basis for manufacture today. in the 1930s, the USA had a combined production of 1.5 million per day, but their use declined through the ’60s and ’70s. The ’80s saw their value in the prevention of the transmission of AIDS being recognized, and the UNPF (United Nations Population Fund) gave away 3 billion condoms in 2002. Advances in materials and technology have improved the condom and enabled the production of more sophisticated devices than our ancestors were used to. The latest developments are hypoallergenic polyurethane condoms, which are twice as strong as latex, enabling a thinner and more sensitive device.

Prof. Anthony J. Ryan will take a closer look at how chemistry changes everything, especially condoms. In his talk „3 Millenia of Condoms” he will focus on the material properties of rubber, and the place of condoms in popular culture.

Anthony J. Ryan is a Professor of Chemistry and the Director of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures (GCSF) at the University of Sheffield/UK. In his talk he will focus on the material properties of rubber, and the place of condoms in popular culture. Ryan is also an enthusiastic cook, an obsessive cyclist, and he was made an Officer of the British Empire for ‘Services to Science’.


With only four weeks until Christmas, it is the obvious thing to do: Celebrate Xmas together! NCCR fellow Jens Gaitzsch will not only introduce Tony Ryan, but also stage his “Xmas around the world” quiz for you to test your festive knowledge. There will also be Christmas cookies and “Glühwein” for free, as long as it lasts. DJ Morbus Nova provides the musical ambiance. Everyone welcome.