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November 2 is the Day of the Dead, a colourful Mexican festival where people remember friends and family members who have died. A perfect day to have a look at some of our objects which represent the dead … First off there are death masks, used both to commemorate the famous and the criminal. This death mask of Benjamin Disraeli was taken six hours after he died in 1881. We’ve also got some slightly gruesome anatomical models:  Such models would normally be made as educational tools, but […]

The lovely Emily in our Science Night department has expressed her concern at my taking to powered transport at Wroughton last weekend. She saw me powering into the distance on my Brompton folding bicycle and naturally feared for my safety on anything with an engine! I’ve been thinking of buying a folding bike for ages, but wondered what they were really like to ride. Then I discovered that South West Trains are offering very good value Brompton hire as part […]

I had a great day out on Sunday at our Wroughton Festival of Innovation. I had my first ever motorbike lesson! My instructor was the excellent (and patient) Neil, from Ace Motorcycle Training, who got me properly riding – changing gears and everything. OK, I didn’t get higher than second, and I had some difficulty turning corners, but I didn’t stall much and more importantly I really enjoyed it… Ace is taking part in the industry-led Get On campaign which is promoting life on […]

I woke yesterday to the news that the Mini is set to receive a boost, as two new models are to be built at BMW’s plant in Cowley, Oxford. Up to 1,000 jobs might be created. Our love affair with the Mini goes back to 1959. Versions of the original design, by Alec Issigonis, continued in production until 2000, and BMW launched the new Mini the following year. Our curator Andrew Nahum’s book on Issigonis tells the whole story. My parents had a Mini […]

Earlier this week, a team of British engineers broke the world steam-car land speed record. The ‘Inspiration’ car used a turbine driven by steam from twelve boilers fitted inside the car – check out the video here. The previous record was set in 1906, by American racing car driver Fred Marriott. Marriott drove a Stanley steam car at Daytona Beach for his 1906 record-setting run, averaging an impressive 128mph. The record stood for more than a hundred years, until the Inspiration team drove their […]

I had a great day yesterday at the Science Museum Wroughton, recording a series of video interviews promoting the Festival of Innovation (12 – 13 September). I was there to talk about twenty transport icons that shaped the modern world. One was a Moulton bicycle, the first significant design change to the bike since J. K. Starley’s ‘Rover’ safety bicycle hit the scene in the 1880s. The Moulton is a small-wheel, compact cycle with full suspension that is easy to […]

Last week our Antenna team brought in a pair of self-guided ‘pod cars’ that will soon be installed at Heathrow airport, transporting passengers from the car parks to the terminals. There’s no driver in the four-seat cabins – they’re controlled by lasers bouncing off an external guideway and feedback tells the pod to steer as necessary. It’s a sophisticated new take on a fifty-year-old concern. The Science Museum has a 1960 Citroen DS19 car which was modified by the Road […]