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biology

Electron density map and model of Penicillin.

The things and objects of history are important because they provide a tangible connection to the past. Seeing, or better yet holding and touching, the stuff that generations now dead made and worked with enlivens history, shucking us from the present and its endless clamour for our attention. The Hidden Structures exhibition at the Science Museum trips us into the history of X-ray crystallography with a small but intriguing display of objects from the 1940s through to the 1970s. The […]

How many people do you know that have had a cataracts operation? Cataract (the clouding of the lens of the eye) have been operated on for hundreds of years. One of the earliest operations was couching – pushing the clouded lens out of the way to restore some vision. By the 1740s, methods were developed to remove the lens completely. However it wasn’t until the 1940s, that a successful artificial alternative to the eye’s lens was found, the intra-ocular lens. While working […]

To celebrate the centenary of X-ray crystallography, the Science Museum has just opened Hidden Structures, a new display of molecular models made using the technique writes Boris Jardine

Collecting stuff is generally the bit I like most about my job. That’s probably why I’ve got a bit over excited about the new acquisitions we’ve made related to synthetic biology – from no other than Tom Knight widely described as the “father” of the discipline. Synthetic biology is research that combines biology and engineering. Sounds like genetic engineering by another name? Well yes, but it goes much further. It looks to create new biological functions not found in nature, […]

One bottle is a killer. The other is entirely safe. They’re identical in every other way – indeed from the same manufacturing batch. This new acquisition was donated by Professor Barry Cookson, former Director of the Laboratory of Healthcare Associated Infection, HPA. But what happened to make one so deadly and the other not? These bottles of dextrose are sad reminders of the life and death hunt for 500 similar bottles in March 1972. Five patients died at the Devonport Hospital […]

The third and final installment of Miranda Bud’s blogs…  The Watson and Crick discovery of the DNA double helix is an iconic image of our scientific age. It is considered the milestone of contemporary genetics and is such an integrated part of our society that saying “it’s in my DNA” is a commonly used phrase by many people. Working with Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin they unlocked the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century. It led to countless advances, solved […]

On Saturday I had tickets to see the Men’s Road Race competition. It was terrifically exciting as they zoomed nine times round Box Hill. Shame about the result but ho hum. In recent times Britain has become bike mad. Bicycle bits crop up a surprising amount of times – in rather unusual ways – in the medical collections.  So even if it all goes wrong for Bradley Wiggins in the time trial (and fingers crossed not!)- here’s some ideas to put his bike to good use to: […]

We have some amazing volunteers doing fantastic work helping us uncover more about our collections. Regina and Alix started volunteering with the Science Museum in October 2011, and are currently working on a project to catalogue the museum’s extensive microscope slide collections. Here’s the first in a series of blogs they’ve written to let you know more about what they’ve discovered in the basement of our store at Blythe House… Imagine a room full to the brim with curious wooden […]