There is something a little ironic about an Advent calendar based on science but, putting that to one side, the offering from the Royal Institution is an absolute beaut.

But then when most Advent calendars are only really about seasonal shapes fashioned out of chocolate, anything with a bit more substance is a welcome change.

For the scientific community, Christmas is all about the RI. Its annual lecture series attracts the finest minds to explore all aspects of science, with the firm aim of making it more accessible to we lay people.

This year it’s all about chemistry (and not the kind that’s got the media’s royal correspondents in such a tizzy this morning. Or is that biology…?).

For its Advent calendar at the RI has asked some of its friends to talk about their favourite elements from the periodic table and so far they’re proving enlightening and entertaining.

And so much more enriching than a small, ultimately unsatisfying piece of chocolate.

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