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Science Museum Blog

In a previous post, I shared with you my recent visit to the merchant seafarers war memorial in London. I’d gone to find the plaque commemorating the Atlantic Conveyor, a Cunard container ship requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence during the 1982 Falklands war for transport duty, and sunk following an Argentine missile attack. Soon after the war, Cunard commissioned the original builders of the Atlantic Conveyor, Swan Hunter, to construct her replacement. Taking the same name, the second ship was being […]

Gaetan Lee is organising tomorrow’s launch event for Cosmic Collections, our website competition. Find out a little more about what to expect. What should people expect at the event tomorrow? Well they should expect to get a chance to meet some great people and really get a chance to contribute – to a certain extent its going to be a user-generated event. By coming along they will be able to hear the story of eighteenth century astronomer Caroline Herschel from […]

The other day I had a look round Trinity Square Gardens, a little park in front of the headquarters of Trinity House. Surrounded by the bustle of tourists visiting the nearby Tower of London, the garden is by contrast a very sombre space. It contains the Tower Hill Memorial to sailors in Britain’s merchant navy who have lost their lives at war. Burnished bronze plaques extend along the walls of the memorial containing the names of the dead. The World War […]

I mentioned before how much I love Blythe House, our storehouse in west London. This is where we keep the things that aren’t on display in the Science Museum or out at Wroughton. There’s some great stuff tucked away. For instance, these model buoys have always caught me eye – a set designed to teach people what the different colours and shapes mean. Philip Treacy, eat your heart out:  Nearby are these motor car spark plugs. Pink – and pretty as […]

This Saturday (24 October), we’re launching our Cosmic Collections website ‘mash-up’ competition. Just in case anyone else is as baffled as me, I asked our Lead Web Developer, Mia Ridge, a few questions about the competition. For the non-geeks out there, what’s a mash-up? A mashup is a website or application that combines separate data sources and/or visualisation tools into a single integrated interface. A really useful example is moveflat – you can search for housing by bus route or on a […]

Ali Boyle is the Curator of Astronomy at the Science Museum. She oversaw Cosmos & Culture, one of our newest exhibitions so I asked her a few questions about putting the exhibition together and the Cosmic Collections website competition that we’re just about to launch… What’s the Cosmos & Culture exhibition about, and how did you select and organise the objects? Cosmos & Culture looks at how people all around the world have interacted with the skies throughout history. It uses the […]

Even though I’ve worked at the Science Museum for eight years, I still find the Flight Gallery stunning. It reminds me of my childhood bedroom ceiling, with one big difference: I had plastic kits hanging in dogfight freeze frames, the Flight Gallery has the real things!  One thing that really sticks out is this crab incrusted trophy with the plump-bottom angel (supposed to represent the Spirit of Flight kissing the waves). It’s the Schneider Trophy, which was offered from 1913 to […]

The bike I currently use has no suspension. This doesn’t bother me. I only use it on London streets and I’d rather my pedalling effort went into going forward than compressing a spring up and down. But it would have been a different matter on badly-made Victorian roads using a bike with solid rubber tyres… enter the ‘Whippet’ cycle, introduced in 1885: The sprung-framed Whippet was made by a firm called Linley & Biggs in their factory at 29 Clerkenwell Road, London. As […]

Having blogged about our tamiflu discussions (we medical curators have exciting lives), I thought might be a good idea to talk about the kind of things we have acquired in the last year or so. One of my favourites is our new smoking collection. Smoking, and tobacco, have a long and not always negative association with medicine. So we already have a perhaps surprising number of objects related to tobacco, from smoking paraphernalia to the rather fabulous Resuscitator for reviving “persons […]

My daily commute to work is a nightmare. Seriously. Look at the view I have to put up with every morning: Sorry. That was smug of me. Unless I’m in a tearing hurry (I try not to be) I commute by fast clipper along the River Thames to work. It’s a glorious way to travel! Sometimes, big ships come up the river and park alongside HMS Belfast (a Second World War ship now part of the Imperial War Museum). This week […]

Sometimes a single object can express a lot about a contemporary issue, and where it fits into shifting ideas about health and personal responsibility. Take the PatientPak, launched in the UK in September 2008. The kit contains antimicrobial products claiming to kill 99.99% of hospital germs including Novovirus and E coli and the ‘superbug’ MRSA. Bought via the internet or in high street shops, the manufacturers advertise their product as an ‘ideal gift’ for people going into hospital. The issue […]

I was talking recently about battery-powered electric vehicles, but the big story right now is the hybrid car, which combines both a petrol engine and a battery-driven motor. They’re pretty complicated, but the HowStuffWorks tutorial here explains it clearly. The idea is that they’re more fuel-efficient than purely petrol cars, thereby reducing climate-changing emissions. But the concept has a long history – albeit with different aims in mind. In the early years of motoring, for instance, one big problem with […]