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computing

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, […]

Continuing our Women’s History Month theme, today we’re celebrating International Women’s Day. As the theme for 2011 is ‘equal access to education, training and science and technology’, it seems like a good day to celebrate Kathleen Lonsdale, who in 1945 became the first woman to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, along with microbiologist Marjory Stephenson (only 285 years after the men). Lonsdale was a pioneer in the field of X-ray crystallography, in which scientists fire X-rays at […]

What’s the one gadget you couldn’t live without? Your mobile phone, PDA, music player, game console – or all those things combined in a sleek smartphone? No matter which device you choose, the one thing that all these gadgets couldn’t exist without is their rechargeable battery – the beating heart of the modern world. The first rechargeable battery was the Lead-Acid battery, invented in 1859 by Gaston Planté, but it was the Nickel Cadmium battery invented in 1899 by Waldemar Jungar that […]

Whilst doing some research into the history of the mobile phone in Britain I made a discovery in the Museum’s collections that took me back in time. Back to when a pay phone was a useful piece of street furniture and the iPhone was but a twinkle in Steve Job’s eye. The year – 1992. The discovery – the Rabbit Phone. The Rabbit Phone is a glitch in our technological past – a transitional invention that represented where technology was going, but not […]

The British inventor of the magnetic drum store, Andrew D. Booth, recently passed away so its a good time to remember the significance of his work for computing today. Andrew Booth was a physicist and computer scientist who became interested in the structure of explosives when he was working in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. After WW2 he moved to Birkbeck College, University of London, where he met the physicist J.D. Bernal and began to use X-ray crystallography to look […]

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 […]

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 […]

The 1980s race to create an affordable and reliable home computer was the subject of BBC4’s ‘Micro Men’ shown last night (and still on iPlayer). Chris Curry, co-founder of Acorn computers, and Sir Clive Sinclair were competitors but they were also close friends and they both did an enormous amount to bring the creativity of computing into British homes. Our computing collections represent the incredible diversity of British machines at this time, from familiar computers such as the Dragon 32, ZX81 and the […]