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chemistry

Steph Millard in the exhibitions team looks back over 100 years of stainless steel, first cast in August 1913 by Harry Brearley.  Today’s journey into work sets me thinking. Looking at the queue of cars ahead with their stainless steel exhaust systems I repeatedly glance at my wristwatch – with its stainless steel back – to check I won’t be late. To my right, the Canary Wharf tower – with its 370,000 square feet of stainless steel cladding – glints majestically in […]

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

This blog was written by Helen Peavitt, Curator of Domestic Technology Formica is 100 this year. Best known as the laminate associated with the 1950s and 60s colour explosion in surface coverings, what’s probably less well known is that it was originally an insulation material for the electrical industry. Formica literally stands for ‘for mica’, as it was developed as a synthetic plastic substitute for expensive mineral mica. It was made by binding layers of cloth or paper together with […]

Sir Henry Bessemer’s motto summed him up – one who strived, faced and overcame obstacles to achieve a number of successes. These culminated in the invention of his process for the bulk production of steel in 1856. This development was to prove massively significant in the extension of the railways and in large construction. Bessemer, born 200 years ago this month, sought the key process that would allow him to live in the lap of luxury.  His father, Anthony Bessemer, also […]

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, […]

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 […]

The second installment of Miranda Bud’s blogs…  The majority of people will need to wear some form of glasses at some point of their lives, and I am no exception. I was fascinated therefore to discover the treasure trove of old spectacles frames and lenses hidden away in the basement of Blythe. The most striking thing about the majority of these spectacles was their size. The glasses have tiny lenses which I can imagine were quite difficult to see through. The […]

Happy 2012 to everyone! The New Year Honours List has been announced and some will be starting off 2012 with new titles or new letters after their names. A number of scientists and medical researchers were honoured this year. Unsurprisingly the Science Museum’s medical collection has its fair share of sirs and dames as well as OBEs and Orders of Merit. Arthur Weston made a number of artificial prostheses while imprisoned in Stalag VIIIB/344 (Lamsdorf) during the Second World War. […]