Author Archives: laura

Fireworks And Fun For British Science Week

To mark British Science Week, the Science Museum hosted a special event with the British Science Association for over 400 children from the Kids Company London Centres. Kids Company Team Leader Lycia reflects on a day of science based fun

Bang! Whizz! Pop! What a fabulous time we spent at the Science Museum earlier this week as we joined forces with the British Science Association to give a group of young people a wonderful day out to celebrate British Science Week.

Matthew Tosh entertains an audience of children from the Kids Company's London Centres in the Science Museum's IMAX theatre

Matthew Tosh entertains an audience of children from the Kids Company’s London Centres in the Science Museum’s IMAX theatre. Image credit: Megan Taylor

On arrival we were welcomed into the Museum’s famous Launchpad gallery, which we had entirely to ourselves and where the children were allowed to roam around playing on the various exhibits before being taken to the IMAX theatre for a special science show. The children adored exploring the Launchpad exhibits and the room buzzed with excitement with comments such as, “This is awesome!”, “I wish we could spend a week here!” and “I’m going to get my mum to take me back!”.

It was particularly wonderful to see the reactions of children who normally report to not liking science, enthralled by the mass of exciting experiments to explore.

We were then lead into the impressive IMAX theatre where we were greeted with soothing music and comfortable seats as one of the Science Museum’s Explainers gave a warm welcome to Matthew Tosh, our entertainer for the morning. For the next hour Matthew captured our attention from start to finish with an array of bangs, flashes and pops, all interspersed with digestible nuggets of fascinating science. His enthusiasm for his work was infectious and it was great to see the children listening attentively as he spoke about the importance of following career paths which excite them.

Matthew Tosh explains the science behind fireworks in his show in the Science Museum's IMAX. Image credit: Megan Taylor.

Matthew Tosh explains the science behind fireworks in his show in the Science Museum’s IMAX. Image credit: Megan Taylor.

After being dazzled by an incredible show, we left the IMAX feeling uplifted and inspired. On leaving the theatre, it was great to hear some of the comments from the children – “That was so good!”, and “I really want to be a scientist in the future!”

We wish to say a big thank you to the Science Museum and the BSA for such a memorable day.

British Science Week is a ten day programme of science, technology, engineering and maths events and activities across the UK for people of all ages and runs until Sunday 22 March. 

The Digital Information Age: Bringing Old Technology To Life

Anne Prugnon, New Media Manager, examines the Science Museum’s creative use of digital technology in enhancing visitors’ experience of the Information Age gallery.

Featuring over 800 objects and spanning 200 years of dramatic moments in the history of communication and information technology, the Information Age gallery provided us with the perfect opportunity to bring a new edge to storytelling through the most advanced digital technology. In each of the six areas of the gallery (Networks) digital elements work in harmony with historical objects to help increase visitors’ understanding and enjoyment of the Museum’s collections.

A wide view of the Information Age gallery showing the Constellation Network. C. Andrew Meredith for Universal Design Studio

A wide view of the Information Age gallery showing the Constellation Network. Image credit: Andrew Meredith for Universal Design Studio

In a Science Museum first, the gallery features a suite of transparent interactive LCD screens that sit in front of significant objects from our collections (see one in action in the video below).These displays allow visitors to discover more about the various objects while using creative lighting to retain the object in central view.

A number of object display cases have been specially designed to include video screens. This enables important archive films to be presented alongside related objects and to form an integral part of the narrative within each case.

Visitors can also enjoy trying out a number of interactive replicas of historical objects, while sensors track their interaction with each object. As people use the model they can see in real time how the information is transmitted, demonstrating the invisible science behind the technology.

At the heart of each Information Age Network sits a Story Box, a large semi-enclosed space that brings the six gallery themes to life in surprising and creative ways.

Each Story Box allows you to engage in the various themes of the gallery, through the use of LEDs and video environments to multiple screen projections, mobile phone controlled animations and even a mechanical puppet theatre.

A visitor explores the Web Story Box. Image credit: Science Museum

A visitor explores the Web Story Box. Image credit: Science Museum

The Story Boxes were developed in collaboration with leading artists and thinkers including Olivier award-winning video designer Finn Ross, artist Matthew Robins, broadcaster Bonnie Greer and computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Throughout the gallery, people can use their mobile devices to find further content on the Museum’s website and can download a number of apps specially designed for the gallery.

Another highlight is Fiducial Voice Beacons, a digital art installation by BAFTA award winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. The artwork consists of a series of glimmering light beacons on the ceiling of the gallery, each containing a sound recording that is translated into a light sequence.

Artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and his artwork, 'Fiducial Voice Beacons'. Image credit: Science Museum

Artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and his artwork, ‘Fiducial Voice Beacons’. Image credit: Science Museum

Visitors interact with the artwork by downloading a free app which allows them to listen to each recording or contribute with their own message. The Information Age apps and art installation are supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

You can find out more about the Information Age gallery here

50 Years After Churchill: A Tribute From The Science Museum Group

By Laura Singleton, Press Officer, Science Museum

The 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death is being marked across the Science Museum Group with two new exhibitions and the release of a collection of unseen archive photographs.

Last night around 300 distinguished guests, comprising scholars, funders and members of Churchill’s own family, gathered at the Science Museum to celebrate the opening of Churchill’s Scientists which celebrates the scientists who flourished under Churchill’s patronage.

From left to right: Professor Sir David Cannadine, Andrew Nahum, Lead Curator, Dame Mary Archer, Sir Nicholas Soames and Ian Blatchford at the official opening of Churchill's Scientists

From left to right: Professor Sir David Cannadine, Andrew Nahum, Lead Curator, Dame Mary Archer, Sir Nicholas Soames and Ian Blatchford at the official opening of Churchill’s Scientists

Our Chairman, Dame Mary Archer, paid a warm tribute to the scholars and historians who have collaborated with our own curatorial team on the exhibition, adding “a very special mention in despatches for Allen Packwood and his team at the Churchill College Archives”. Among those she thanked was Professor Sir David Cannadine who richly praised the exhibition in a speech of his own.

Sir Nicholas Soames spoke on behalf of the Churchill family, recalling his grandfather’s abiding passion for science among his many great attributes. Guests at the exclusive event were treated to Churchill’s favourite brand of champagne thanks to the generosity of Pol Roger.

The exhibition is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, The Stanley Foundation and The de Laszlo Foundation.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s state funeral and a full day of public commemoration around the UK. To pay tribute to the great leader, Science Museum Group Director Ian Blatchford and Dame Mary attended a private Churchill family memorial service at Westminster Abbey, along with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

Archive image of the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. Image credit: Daily Newspaper archives.

Archive image of the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. Image credit: Daily Newspaper archives.

From today, visitors to the National Railway Museum can see the original train that took Churchill’s coffin on his final journey from London to Oxfordshire. In a moving tribute, Churchill’s Final Journey uses a locomotive and carriages, seen together for the first time in 50 years, plus archive TV footage and audio accounts from those involved to tell the tale of the journey from Waterloo to Hanborough.

The Pullman carriage at the National Railway Museum. Image credit: National Railway Museum

The Pullman carriage at the National Railway Museum. Image credit: National Railway Museum

No 34501 Winston Churchill, fresh from cosmetic restoration at the Mid-Hants Railway, is displayed alongside the baggage van which carried Churchill’s coffin and the Pullman carriage Lydia which carried his family and honoured guests towards his final resting place.

Say the name “Winston Churchill” and the iconic image of the war leader, standing defiant, cigar clenched between his teeth and fingers raised in a victory salute, is at the forefront of many people’s minds. To mark this historic occasion, the National Media Museum has released some rarely seen photographs of Churchill from the Daily Herald newspaper archive.

Winnie Meets 'Digger' at London Zoo, 10 September 1947, Daily Herald Archive, National Media Museum Collection

Winnie Meets ‘Digger’ at London Zoo, 10 September 1947, Daily Herald Archive, National Media Museum Collection

The selection unearthed this week gives an extraordinary insight into Churchill’s public duties and private life. It includes images of his days in the military, intimate family scenes, his fondness for animals, and even boyhood portraits collected retrospectively for his obituary.

The Science Museum Group’s offer forms part of Churchill 2015, a unique programme of events that commemorate Churchill’s life, work and achievements in the 50th anniversary year of his death. Visit www.churchillcentral.com for more information.

Celebrating Churchill’s Scientists with Sir Winston’s great-grandson

By Laura Singleton, Press Officer

‘Science isn’t a word most people associate with my great-grandfather’ said Randolph Churchill, standing in front of an imposing image of his iconic relative as he addressed journalists at the press preview of Churchill’s Scientists.

Randolph Churchill addresses guests at the media preview of Churchill's Scientists. Image credit: Science Museum

Randolph Churchill addresses guests at the media preview of Churchill’s Scientists. Image credit: Science Museum

The exhibition opened to the public today on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death. It celebrates a crucial, but often overlooked element of Churchill’s life and legacy – his relationship with science and the incredible breakthroughs that he championed during his time as Prime Minister, during the Second World War and post-war era.

Randolph told the audience that his great-grandfather had been fascinated with science from a young age. He lived through an age of great technological change, which saw the development of flight, electronics, atomic physics, telephones and televisions, mass consumerism and mass destruction.

He spoke of Sir Winston’s passion for aviation and how he was probably the first Government minister to learn how to fly, at a time when the sport was still considered highly dangerous. This story is brought to life in the exhibition through the display of a model aeroplane.

A guest peers at a model Bleriot plane in the exhibition. Image credit: Science Museum

A guest peers at a model Bleriot plane in the exhibition. Image credit: Science Museum

Randolph also read an extract from a prescient 1924 essay by his great-grandfather that highlighted Churchill’s acute awareness of both the creative and destructive potential of science. The essay speculates about “a bomb no bigger than an orange” with “the secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings – nay to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke”.

Randolph Churchill examines a Jacob Epstein bust of Sir Winston Churchill. Image credit: Science Museum

Randolph Churchill examines a Jacob Epstein bust of Sir Winston Churchill. Image credit: Science Museum

Churchill’s Scientists illuminates other aspects of Churchill’s life including his love of fashion, shown in the display of a green velvet ‘siren suit’ – an all-in-one ‘romper suit’ which bears strong resemblance to the ‘onesie’. At the heart of the exhibition are the stories of the individuals who flourished under Churchill’s patronage, from Robert Watson-Watt, inventor of radar, to Bernard Lovell who created the world’s largest radio telescope, told through unique objects, original archive film footage, letters and photographs.

Randolph Churchill with a high speed camera that captured the first microseconds of the detonation of Britain's first atomic bomb. Image credit: Science Museum

Randolph Churchill with a high speed camera that captured the first microseconds of the detonation of Britain’s first atomic bomb. Image credit: Science Museum

The exhibition forms part of Churchill 2015, a year-long programme of events that commemorate Churchill’s life, work and achievements.

The exhibition is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, The Stanley Foundation and The de Laszlo Foundation. The exhibition is free and runs until March 2016.

Winston Churchill: style icon and inventor of the ‘onesie’

Martin Wise, Archivist at Turnbull & Asser shares the story behind Sir Winston Churchill’s famous ‘siren suit’, as one goes on display for the first time in the Museum’s new Churchill’s Scientists exhibition which opens next week

The ‘siren suit’, which bears resemblance to the infamous ‘onesie’, is a practical one-piece item of clothing originally designed by Sir Winston Churchill during the Second World War to be quickly slipped over his clothes in the event of an air raid. The great statesman had a variety of siren suits, which he referred to as ‘romper suits,’ including sombre, military style suits, as well as more extravagant pin-striped and velvet versions.

Winston Churchill wearing   one of his siren suits. Image credit: Turnbull & Asser

Winston Churchill wearing one of his siren suits. Image credit: Turnbull & Asser

There are only three original Winston Churchill siren suits known to be in existence, including a green velvet garment created by Turnbull & Asser. Churchill reportedly returned his siren suits to the Jermyn Street shirt-maker for repair on several occasions – damaged not through enemy action but by cigar burns.

It would seem that the former Prime Minister had developed something of a penchant for the outfit, opting to sport it for the most formal of occasions. Churchill wore one of these suits on a visit to the White House, Washington, in December 1941. At a press conference that week, Mrs Roosevelt declared she was having one made for her husband.

Winston Churchill making a BBC broadcast wearing one of his siren suits in on 30th November 1942. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Winston Churchill making a BBC broadcast wearing one of his siren suits on 30th November 1942. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

After the war, Churchill wore a siren suit again when he sat for sculptor Oscar Nemon in the 1950’s. After the sittings he gave the suit to Nemon as a souvenir. Small splashes of red paint on the trousers suggested Churchill also wore it whilst painting.

Due to Churchill’s rather large proportions, Turnbull & Asser have commissioned a bespoke mannequin to display the unique garment in the Science Museum. Expertly built using a fibreglass frame, the mannequin is covered in padding to mimic the former Prime Minister’s body shape, bringing the siren suit to life.

The pattern for Sir Winston Churchill's siren suit. Image credit: Turnbull & Asser

The pattern for Sir Winston Churchill’s siren suit. Image credit: Turnbull & Asser

For those wishing to emulate the British bulldog’s style, Turnbull & Asser are due to launch a Churchill-inspired capsule collection to mark the 50th anniversary of his death this year, celebrating a great man, whose bold style and strong leadership inspired a nation.

You can see the green velvet siren suit on display together with the cigar Churchill smoked on the evening of the 1951 election when he heard he had been re-elected as Prime Minister.

Churchill’s Scientists opens to the public on Friday 23 January. For more information visit our website.

Winston Churchill: Up In The Air

Rachel Boon, Content Developer, looks at the lesser known story of Winston Churchill’s passion for flying, soon to be revealed in a new exhibition, Churchill’s Scientists, which opens on 23 January. 

Sir Winston Churchill was passionate about technology, in particular aviation. He was one of the first people, and likely the first politician to learn how to fly. Heavier than air flight was less than a decade old when Churchill first jumped into the pilot seat. This was in the days when flying was still considered a dangerous sport and no pilot would let Churchill fly alone for fear that he may have an accident on their watch. He was a keen learner and was reported to go up in the air over ten times a day.

Winston Churchill after his arrival by air at Portsmouth, from Upavon, Wiltshire, 1914. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Winston Churchill after his arrival by air at Portsmouth, from Upavon, Wiltshire, 1914. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Fears about Churchill’s safety grew after one of his instructors, Captain Lushington was killed in a plane crash in Kent. Churchill reluctantly gave up his hobby in 1913, following pleas from his friends and wife Clementine, which is illustrated in many of their letters to each other. Clementine’s anxieties are reflected in one letter in which she says, “Your telegram arrived late last night, after we were in bed – every time I see a telegram now, I think it is to announce that you have been killed flying… goodbye dear but cruel one.”

Eventually, after giving up the sport, he sadly reflected, ‘This is a wrench. … Anyhow, I can feel I know a good deal about this fascinating new art … well enough to understand all the questions of policy which will arise in the near future.’

As Churchill’s political career developed he earned a living as a journalist. Although he never qualified for a pilot’s license, Churchill wasn’t one to miss an opportunity to write dramatically about learning to fly. He published two articles in Nash’s Pall Mall entitled “In the Air” and “Why I gave up flying: The story of two almost fatal crashes” in June and July 1924.

Flying model, enlarged "Eclipse", c. 1911. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Flying model, enlarged “Eclipse”, c. 1911. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

This is one of a pair of model Bleriot planes the Museum acquired with a note that one was ‘broken by Sir Winston Churchill when he was flying it with the Marquis of Blandford at Blenheim Castle‘. It is one of the star objects on display in the new exhibition Churchill’s Scientists which opens later this month.

The exhibition explores developments in science during the Second World War and post war period when Churchill was Prime Minister. This model plane is yet another example of Churchill’s hobby and it supports our story of his fascination with the potential of rapidly emerging new technologies of the 20th century.

Churchill’s Scientists opens to the public on Friday 23 January. For more details visit our website.

How To Survive A Christmas On Rations: Eat, Exercise And Be Merry

Rachel Boon, Content Developer, reveals the radical quest by two nutritionists to create a healthy national diet during the Second World War – one of the stories featured in a new exhibition, Churchill’s Scientists, which opens on 23 January.

The Second World War challenged the health of the home population as well as the fighting services. Even before the war, Britain depended on a huge quantity of imported goods, including food. Enemy ships targeted incoming Allied merchant vessels sending their precious cargo to the depths of the Atlantic.  As various items became scarce, food consumption was rationed.

Winston Churchill was keen, wherever possible, to limit austerity in the interests of morale. Even his scientific adviser, the teetotal Frederick Lindemann, was glad that the Ministry of Food undertook to provide the normal stocks of beer.

Used Ration Book, and two partly used Ration Book Supplements, issued by the Ministry of Food during the second World War. Image credit: Science Museum

Used Ration Book, and two partly used Ration Book Supplements, issued by the Ministry of Food during the Second World War. Image credit: Science Museum

This period saw the rise of a small group of scientists whose experimental research helped ensure people had enough food to survive.

Pioneering studies assessed the impact of rationing and established a healthy balance of available foods. Nutritionists Robert McCance and Elsie Widdowson led this investigation. Their task was to see how far food produced in Britain could meet the needs of the population and how much shipping could be saved.

Both scientists were familiar with self-experimentation before the war, having explored the chemical make-up of food and its effect on human health. Their book, The Composition of Foods was first published in 1940 and became a standard work in the field of nutrition.

This task was no different. Funded by the Medical Research Council, McCance, Widdowson and a small group of volunteers drastically reduced their intake of food and drink to a level some considered ‘intolerable’.  Although wholemeal bread and potatoes were unrationed, each person was allowed the following quantities per week: 110g fat, 150g sugar, one egg, 110g cheese, 450g meat and fish combined and quarter of a pint of milk a day.

After enduring this diet for three months, the volunteers moved to the Lake District for the second stage of their experiment. In chilly December 1940, the team proved that by enduring gruelling climbs, hikes and bicycle rides, this basic diet could meet the nation’s health needs.

Elsie Widdowson with volunteers in the Lake District. Image credit: Margaret Ashwell

Elsie Widdowson with volunteers in the Lake District. Image credit: Margaret Ashwell

One of McCance and Widdowson’s most important findings was the risk of calcium deficiency from a diet low in dairy products. Their recommendation for fortifying bread with calcium carbonate (chalk) was met with criticism, but later made law.  McCance and Widdowson’s work was made public after the war with their book, An Experimental Study of Rationing, published in 1946.

Table showing foods consumed during days of strenuous exercise. Image credit: Wellcome Library, London

Table showing foods consumed during days of strenuous exercise. Image credit: Wellcome Library, London

The book shows that even in the hardships of McCance and Widdowson’s  experiment, they celebrated Christmas with a hearty meal as their ‘calorie intake was affected by comfort and good cheer’. There was a plum pudding made from ingredients saved from the previous week’s rations and McCance ate five large potatoes ‘more than he had ever eaten in one day before’. This may sound familiar, but he had cycled for 52 miles the day before!

Extract showing calorie consumption on christmas day, from An Experimental Study of Rationing. Image credit: Medical Research Council

Extract showing calorie consumption on Christmas Day, from An Experimental Study of Rationing. Image credit: Medical Research Council

As you tuck into your plate of turkey, pigs-in-blankets, roast potatoes and that token Brussels sprout, spare a thought for those intrepid nutritionists whose experiments ensured people had enough food on their tables during the Second World War.

Churchill’s Scientists is a free exhibition that opens to the public on 23 January 2015. To find out more visit our website 

 

Celebrating Dorothy Hodgkin: Britain’s First Female Winner of a Nobel Science Prize

Rachel Boon, Content Developer, looks at the legacy of one of Britain’s most famous scientists, one of the stars of our Churchill’s Scientists exhibition.

Today (10 December) marks exactly 50 years since Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, on 10 December, 1964. Hodgkin won the prestigious prize “for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances”. She was only the third woman to win the prestigious prize – the crowning achievement of a 30 year career spent unravelling the structures of proteins, including insulin.

Dorothy Hodgkin was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1964 for her studies using X-ray crystallography, with which she worked out the atomic structure of penicillin, vitamin B-12 and insulin. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Dorothy Hodgkin was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1964 for her studies using X-ray crystallography, with which she worked out the atomic structure of penicillin, vitamin B-12 and insulin. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Hodgkin first found fame when she finally solved the structure of penicillin on Victory in Europe Day in 1945.

Alexander Fleming had identified the anti-bacterial properties of penicillium mould in 1928 but thought the substance was too unstable to isolate as a drug.  At Oxford University Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley proved otherwise and successfully purified the antibiotic for human use in 1941.

Once the potential was realised, vast amounts of the drug were needed. Chain spoke of his excitement and challenged Hodgkin to find its structure, promising ‘One day we will have crystals for you.’

Penicillin saved many lives during the Second World War. Allied governments recognised the potential of the ‘wonder drug’ and the race was on to convert a laboratory discovery into a mass- produced drug.

Hodgkin unravelled the structure of penicillin using a method called X-ray crystallography - a technique used to identify the structure of molecules. Hodgkin had been fascinated by crystals from a young age and on her sixteenth birthday received a book about using X-rays to analyse crystals, which greatly inspired her.

You can see Hodgkin’s three dimensional atomic structure of penicillin in our Churchill’s Scientists exhibition opening in January.

Molecular model of penicillin by Dorothy Hodgkin, c.1945. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Molecular model of penicillin by Dorothy Hodgkin, c.1945. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Another notable molecular structure Hodgkin tackled was that of vitamin B12, which she cracked with the help of Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE computer, which is on display in our Information Age gallery.

The Pilot ACE (Automatic Computing Engine), 1950. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

The Pilot ACE (Automatic Computing Engine), 1950. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

These achievements had an immense impact on chemistry, biochemistry and medical science, establishing the power of X-ray crystallography, and changing the practice of synthetic chemistry.

She was one of the first people in April 1953 to travel from Oxford to Cambridge to see the model of the double helix structure of DNA, constructed by Briton Francis Crick and American James Watson, based on data acquired by Rosalind Franklin, which can also be seen in the Museum’s  Making the Modern World gallery.

Crick and Watson's DNA molecular model, 1953. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Crick and Watson’s DNA molecular model, 1953. Image credit: Science Museum / SSPL

Hodgkin was awarded the Order of Merit, only the second woman to be honoured in this way after Florence Nightingale. She was also the first woman to be awarded the Royal Society’s Copley medal, its oldest and most prestigious award.

She died in July 1994, aged 84. In her honour, the Royal Society established the prestigious Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship for early career stage researchers.

The origins of the technique she used date back to when X-rays, one of the most remarkable discoveries of the late 19th century, had been shown to react strangely when exposed to crystals, producing patterns of spots on a photographic plate.

You can find out more about Dorothy Hodgkin in our Churchill’s Scientists exhibition, open until April 2016. The exhibition will look at the triumphs in science during Churchill’s period in power, both in war and in the post-war era.

From Morse Code to Wikipedia – The Information Revolution Hits November Lates

Laura Singleton, Press Officer blogs about the last Lates evening of 2014, which celebrated the Science Museum’s new Information Age gallery

A crowd gathers as a woman standing on a plinth points a mobile phone up to the ceiling of the Information Age gallery. In her other hand is a cable, connected to a device which produces a mesmerising electronic sound. The sound changes in pitch and frequency as the woman and her performance partners make careful movements as if playing a musical instrument. Above people’s heads a faint chorus of voices can be heard, while the light beacons on the ceiling twinkle.

Visitors watch a musical performance of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Fiducial Voice Beacons artwork. Image credit: Science Museum

Visitors watch a musical performance of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Fiducial Voice Beacons artwork. Image credit: Science Museum

This ‘sound art’ performance by Professor of Media Computing at Goldsmiths, Atau Tanaka and his team is a musical interpretation of a new art commission,  Fiducial Voice Beacons by BAFTA award winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The performance was one of the highlights of the November Lates evening, which was designed around the theme of information and communication technology to celebrate the new Information Age gallery. The subject matter certainly seemed to capture people’s imagination, drawing in a crowd of 3,728 visitors to the Museum and providing a perfect close to our 2014 programme.

 

Charlotte Connelly, Content Developer gives a tour of the Information Age gallery. Image credit: Science Museum

Charlotte Connelly, Content Developer gives a tour of the Information Age gallery. Image credit: Science Museum

In an evening that managed to squeeze in 200 years of technological innovation into just over three hours, visitors were invited to hear Iain Logie Baird’s account of the first ever outdoor public broadcast by the BBC – the famous Nightingale broadcast of 1924, and the innovative microphone that made it possible. Elsewhere, Morse code and jewellery lovers could combine their interests to make special bracelets. Visitors exploring Information Age were encouraged to share their new pictures for a new Wikipedia page on the gallery too.

Those after a hint of nostalgia were drawn to a traditional looking telephone box supervised by BT, where people could enter the booth for photos to take away as personal mementoes of the evening.

Visitors queue up to take part in BT's Phone Box Photo Booth. Image credit: Science Museum

Visitors queue up to take part in BT’s Phone Box Photo Booth. Image credit: Science Museum

Meanwhile, on the second floor others were excited by the prospect of being able to handle iconic mobile phones from the 1980’s whilst browsing around the Information Age gallery and enjoying curators’ talks and drama character performances.

 

The Claude Shannon drama character entertains visitors in the Information Age gallery. Image credit: Science Museum

The Claude Shannon drama character entertains visitors in the Information Age gallery. Image credit: Science Museum

Keen readers were challenged to take part in Accenture’s fun speed-reading game and could even record their voice on Wikipedia in a separate test.

One of the 21st century’s latest milestones – the quest to explore Mars, was represented by the ExoMars Rover Bridget, where visitors were invited to meet the team from Airbus Defence who built her and ask questions about their work.

How old were you when you first went online? Have you ever been dumped by text message? These were the questions that generated a wall full of post-it notes as visitors of all ages were eager to share their memories of the technological milestones that unite all of us.

The next Lates evening will be on Wednesday 28 January 2015 and will look at the incredible world of engineering. You can find out more on our website.

Imitation Game Special Preview at the Science Museum

Laura Singleton, Press Officer, describes an extraordinary celebration of codebreaker and mathematician Alan Turing at an exclusive screening of the new film, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch

Alan Turing’s remarkable story is “heart-breaking and shocking, but important to tell” said Morten Tyldum, Director of The Imitation Game, at a special preview screening at the Science Museum`s IMAX theatre.

Dave Calhoun, Global Film Editor at Time Out in conversation with Morten Tyldum, director of The Imitation Game. Image credit: Science Museum / Jennie Hills

Dave Calhoun, Global Film Editor at Time Out in conversation with Morten Tyldum, Director of The Imitation Game. Image credit: Science Museum / Jennie Hills. 

Turing was “a puzzle and a mystery to explore” continued Tyldum when asked about his inspiration for making the film. He “wasn’t just a mathematician, he was a philosopher. It’s a tragedy he couldn’t stay with us longer” he added during a conversation with Dave Calhoun, Global Film Editor of Time Out about the making of the film, to a packed audience.

The conversation touched on the importance of authenticity – by finding locations (Turing’s old school and Bletchley Park) that worked best to tell the story, and praised the efforts of the actors for their emotional performances.

Morten Tyldum talks about  the making of the film to an audience in the Science Museum's IMAX. Image credit: Science Museum / Jennie Hills

Morten Tyldum talks about the making of the film to an audience in the Science Museum’s IMAX. Image credit: Science Museum / Jennie Hills

Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, began proceedings by welcoming guests and thanking Studio Canal for choosing the Science Museum as the venue for the screening. He declared that “the making of this film represents yet another welcome sign that Turing is at long last getting the recognition that he so richly deserves.”

He spoke of the growing public recognition of Turing’s incredible achievements, demonstrated by a recent public poll, in which over 50,000 people voted, in which Turing’s Universal machine emerged as the most important innovation in science and technology in the past century. The vote demonstrated that “even arcane mathematics can garner popular support”, which the Museum is keen to exploit in the forthcoming Mathematics gallery opening in 2016.

He then moved onto Benedict Cumberbatch’s visit to the Museum’s  award-winning Turing exhibition to help his preparation for  the role of Turing and the Pilot ACE computer, now one of the star objects in the new Information Age gallery, before giving a warm welcome to Tyldum.

Guests admire an Enigma machine in the reception held in the Information Age gallery. Image credit: Science Museum / Jennie Hills

Guests admire an Enigma machine in the reception held in the Information Age gallery. Image credit: Science Museum / Jennie Hills

At an earlier drinks reception in the Information Age gallery, an Enigma machine, brought out specially for the event, attracted crowds as Tyldum was joined by members of Turing’s family to pose for photographs.

The Imitation Game Director Morten Tyldum pictured with members of the Turing family in front of 1951-164 National Physical Laboratory's Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) pilot model and 1980-1200, Three-ring Enigma cypher machine. From Left to right; Mark Barnes (Husband of Rachel), Rachel Barnes (Daughter of Inagh Payne, Turings niece) Morten Tyldum, Tom Barnes (Son of Rachel) Shuna Hunt (Alan Turing's niece) Nevil Hunt (Son of Shuna Hunt).

The Imitation Game Director Morten Tyldum pictured with members of the Turing family in front of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) pilot model and 1980-1200, Three-ring Enigma cypher machine. From Left to right; Mark Barnes (Husband of Rachel), Rachel Barnes (Daughter of Inagh Payne, Turing’s niece) Morten Tyldum, Tom Barnes (Son of Rachel) Shuna Hunt (Alan Turing’s niece) Nevil Hunt (Son of Shuna Hunt). Image credit: Science Museum / Jennie Hills

The reception provided VIP guests including Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, science writer Marcus Chown and journalist and former Science Museum Trustee Janet Street-Porter, with an opportunity to marvel at the Pilot ACE computer and many of the other objects in the new gallery.