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Alison Boyle

Alison is Keeper of Science Collections at the Science Museum.

By Alison Boyle, Keeper of Science Collections We’ve got plenty of Christmas cheer planned here at the Science Museum, but we also always look forward to what our friends at the Royal Institution have in store for their annual Christmas Lectures. This year we’re excited to hear materials chemist Professor Saiful Islam talk about energy and new fuel technologies. This is just one example of many ways in which chemistry plays an important role in addressing the challenges we face […]

Curator Ali Boyle blogs on Big Science, a recent discussion about science and society since WWII that was part of our Collider events series.    If you want to get an understanding of giant scientific projects like CERN, go into your kitchen and take your microwave apart. Actually don’t – we recommend that you leave potentially-destructive household experiments to the guidance of Punk Science. But as Jon Agar points out, a household device that we now take for granted contains […]

Today we’re hosting The Giants’ Shoulders, a monthly event providing a taster of some of the best history of science the blogosphere has offered this month. News of a meteor breaking up over Russia and the close approach of an asteroid inspired many bloggers including Rupert Baker at the Royal Society Repository, Darin Hayton, Lisa Smith at the Sloane Letters Blog and Greg Good at Geocosmohistory. On the Board of Longitude Project blog, Alexi Baker surveyed how attitudes to inanimate objects […]

Something a bit different from Stories from the Stores today – we’re hosting the History Carnival, and bringing you a roundup of last month’s blogs on history (and a few other links we just found interesting). Don’t worry – in true STFS style, we’re still illustrating it with objects and images from the Science Museum’s collections! Slaughter, Shakespeare and squibs November’s remembered for gunpowder treason and plot, for which Guy Fawkes suffered a traitor’s execution: hung, drawn and quartered. As Kathleen McIlvenna points […]

Champagne corks have been popping at CERN today, with news that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has glimpsed the elusive Higgs boson, or at least something that looks very like it. We’re hoping that one or two of the champagne bottles will find their way into the Science Museum’s collections. Bottles of bubbly might seem a rather strange addition to a museum physics collection, but they’re one way for us to capture news like this morning’s for posterity: ironically, sometimes […]

UK astronomy enthusiasts are in for a serious case of Venus envy next week, as the planet transits the Sun. People in other parts of the world will have a good view, but while the 2004 transit was seen across the UK, this year’s – the last until 2117 – mostly happens after nightfall in these parts. Only the final stages will be visible at sunrise on 6 June, but that’s not stopping intrepid observers, who will be hoping that […]

Today, people around the world are celebrating Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday. Hopefully they’ll enjoy themselves more than Dickens himself did on a youthful birthday outing: ‘Slow torture’ … ‘it was awful’ … ‘very alarming’ … ‘I thought if this were a birthday it were better never to have been born’. Dickens looked back on this beleaguered birthday in an All the Year Round article of 1863. The subject of his ire was an astronomical lecture, a popular entertainment of the time. The young […]

100 years ago today, Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. The citation recognised ‘the discovery of the elements radium and polonium … the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element’. Isolating radium from pitchblende was a laborious process, with a ton of ore yielding only a tenth of a gram of the new substance. In the early 20th century radium […]

It’s November, which means that some of your friends may sprout some dubious facial hair over the next few weeks. Yes, it’s that time of year again when thousands of blokes bid goodbye to their razors and grow a moustache to raise awareness for men’s health issues. For anyone unsure which style to adopt, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in the Science Museum. The most famous scientific moustache is of course Albert Einstein’s, which has spawned some truly […]

Astronomers have announced that they can now track sunspots forming before the tell-tale dark spots reach the Sun’s surface. The spots are caused by magnetic activity inside the Sun, and are associated with solar storms, massive bursts of material coming from our star. NASA recently released these staggering observations of our little blue planet being swamped by a sunstorm. Better prediction of solar storms is vital to protect our communication, navigation and power systems. In 1859 the biggest solar storm on record zapped […]

We sometimes find that objects in our collections suddenly become newsworthy because of events beyond the Museum. This beautiful, but small and unassuming, object on display in Cosmos & Culture is now one of them. It’s a prototype gyroscope from the Gravity Probe B experiment, which has been testing predictions made by Einstein’s general theory of relativity: that a massive body such as the Earth should warp and twist the space-time around it. Four spheres like this one – among the most […]

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