Olympic flame: Ready, steady, glow!

The Olympic flame starts its journey to London this week from the Temple of Hera in Greece. It will be held in a torch of pioneering. British design. Emily Dugan sheds a little light

The tradition of bringing the Olympic flame in a relay from Greece began at the Nazi-tainted 1936 Berlin Games. Under the guidance of Joseph Goebbels, 3,331 runners brought the flame from Olympia.

In Greece, 11 women representing Vestal Virgins will perform a ceremony where the torch is lit using the Sun's rays. It takes place at Olympia, in the Temple of Hera, among the ruins of the Ancient Games.

A great-grandmother, Diana Gould, aged 100, will be the oldest torchbearer in the UK relay. She runs exercise classes in her north London retirement flats and is an inspiration to her neighbours. Her motto is: "Don't think old. Just get on with it."

The youngest torchbearer is Dominic MacGowan, 12, from Birmingham, who won an Outstanding Pupil school award and was also nominated school football captain.

The torch was designed by east Londoners Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who won the opportunity through a competitive tender run by the London 2012 Organising Committee and the Design Council.

After it is lit on the 10th, it will be going round Greece and Crete for a week before coming to the UK on Friday 18 May, ahead of the start of the torch relay in Land's End on 19 May.

The torch is made up of an inner and an outer aluminium alloy skin, held in place by a top piece and base, perforated by 8,000 circles.

Representing the inspirational stories of the 8,000 torchbearers carrying the Olympic flame, the circles offer a unique level of transparency. You can see the burner system that keeps the flame alive.

The circles also help to ensure heat is quickly dissipated, without being conducted down the handle.

The torch is being tested in BMW's climatic testing facility in Munich. BMW is a Supporting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

It works like a miniature hot air balloon with a vapour off-take system that uses a cylinder full of liquid gas. The top of the liquid is heated by a coil in the burner which is itself heated by the flame, and converts boiling liquid into gas. The canister is filled with two-thirds propane and one-third butane.

The mother flame, in a back-up lantern, can be used to relight a new torch in extreme situations – additional torches will never be more than 30 seconds away.

The triangular-shaped torch was inspired by a series of "threes" found both in the history of the Olympic Games and the vision for the Olympic Movement. There are three Olympic values: respect, excellence and friendship; three words make up the Olympic motto: faster, higher, stronger; and the UK will have hosted the Games on three occasions: in 1908, 1948 and, now, 2012. The vision for the London 2012 Olympic Games is to combine three bodies of work: sport, education and culture.

More than half London 2012's torchbearers are expected to be youngsters, so the torch is designed to be as light as possible.

The special aluminium alloy was developed for the aerospace and automotive industry. It is lightweight but strong, with excellent heat resistance. The 8,000 circles also reduce the weight of the final design, while ensuring strength isn't compromised.

Tecosim, the Basildon-based product engineers; Birmingham-based LPG specialists and manufacturers, Bullfinch; and the Coventry manufacturers Premier Sheet Metal have all taken the design and moved it into mass production.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas