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ah-science-zoom.jpgTonight's the big night. After Hours: Science Uncovered is about to happen.


‘Did you know you have sent me 185 emails in the last two days?’ asked Nigel Mullins, my invaluable operations manager yesterday as we went on our final operational walk through of the event. I’m not surprised to hear that as this has been an insanely busy week for those of us organising this huge public event. Some of us have given up on clean laundry, I’ve been living on biscuits for the past 2 days, and yesterday I didn't even managed a quick Hob Nob!

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This evening the Central Hall should be packed with visitors enjoying the science stations on either side and on their way to The Science Bar and other attractions at Science Uncovered

We’ve had endless operational meetings; sat in the Central Hall Café, thrashing out the best placings of the drinks dispensaries for the Science Bar and how best to get people in and out without tangling them up like bindweed. We held briefings and walkthroughs, sorted out how we are going to feed the 120+ staff working on the night (sandwiches and salads); and briefed our event security.

 

There have been endless discussions with our contractors, Event Concept, who are doing the ‘rigging’ of power cables from our Central Hall balconies to power up the Science Stations; and Blitz Communications who are putting together the laptops and monitors and plasmas and microscopes with and without cameras for the Science Stations so that our visitors can get really up close and personal with our science.

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Nigel has had a nightmare trying to track down microscopes, and we now know that compound microscopes can’t be had for love nor money in the whole of London. We've sorted out wifi access for our scientists, finalised all the signage, decided where exactly all the tours will be departing from; and not seen much of our homes for about two weeks!

 

I've finally completed the Operations Plan, which nearly killed me; refereed an argument between Event Concept and our signmakers over who is going to be rigging the Science Station signage tonight; sorted out our volunteers with their duties on the welcome desk and tour booking points; had complicated discussions about whether when you turn the lights off in Dinosaurs (for the torchlight tours), the animatronic dinosaurs stop working; written up an equipment spreadsheet for all our technical requirements and a furniture spreadsheet showing where exactly all the 6-foot tables (all 31 of them), the 3-foot tables and the chairs that we will be using for our Science Stations have to go.

 

I've pondered ridiculously long over the colour that the front of the Museum will be lit up tonight (light blood orange) and the colour of the tablecloths for the night (purple and dark lilac); written up the briefings for Front of House staff which were delivered this morning at the crack of 9.30am, a time I certainly did not make.

 

But now we are pretty much set to go, and as the event goes ‘live’ in a few hours, that is probably just as well.

 

We hope that you enjoy everything that After Hours: Science Uncovered has to offer. Our scientists are very much looking forward to the event, and so are we. It should be a great night out.

 

And remember you can follow all the conservations from the night, catch up on blogs, media coverage, and more online in our Science Uncovered community

 

Science Uncovered is part of the Europe-wide European Researchers' Night 2010.

 

Over and out

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Our winter After Hours begin on 29 October, but first, on Friday 24 September we are throwing open our doors until 22.00 for After Hours: Science Uncovered.

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Don't miss our biggest-ever after hours event on Friday 24 September as we join a Europe-wide festival

All across Europe, in over 200 cities, final preparations to kindred events that take place on that night are being made and harrowed-looking event managers (if we are anything to go by) will be crossing their fingers that all will go well.


Stephen Roberts, our Nature Live Manager, who with his colleague Ivvet Modinou, has worked extremely hard on the event (along with the rest of the project team), and was responsible for bringing it to the Museum in the first place, says that London needs an event like this and the Museum must be the best place for it.

 

‘Over 4 million people come to the Museum every year and we have over 300 science staff but, until the opening of the Darwin Centre last year, relatively few of them get to see our scientists, let alone chat.

 

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'After Hours: Science Uncovered changes the balance when an astonishing 60 of our own scientists as well as others from across London have pulled out all the stops to join in a European festival of science called Researchers' Night. We have watched with interest as this initiative, now involving over  500,000 members of the public in Europe, has grown and this year we have thrown ourselves in lock, stock and barrel.'

 

At our event there are over 50 different activities going on, ranging from 30 minute tours and Nature Live events in the Attenborough Studio to our Natural History Roadshow and science stations covering an astounding breadth of our science and collections that you can pop by for a few moments. In The Science Bar you can discuss the hot science of the day, from climate change to life on Mars and everything inbetween or, if you like, just kick back and enjoy a drink and soak up the atmosphere.’

 

Jon Ablett, pictured left, is one of the several zoologists you can meet on the night. He'll be introducing us to The Giant Squid in his Nature Live talk.

 

You can also enjoy a glass of champagne or wine in our Red Bar in Fossil Way, and if you have an interesting specimen, or a story related to the natural world, you can go along to the Hendrick's Bar of Curious Concoctions in the Darwin Centre, and get a free gin and tonic!

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I also wanted to get a quote from my boss, the Director of Public Engagement, Sharon Ament, about what After Hours: Science Uncovered means to her. As things have been so madly busy here with the event, I ended up having to trail her with a notebook down in the lift as she left for the day. Here's what she said:

 

‘It’s fun, it’s insightful, it’s never been done before. Science is international, and this shows the effort that goes into high quality science in the European Union. After Hours: Science Uncovered will be exciting for everyone taking part in it, our scientists and our visitors. There is nothing like getting up close with science, and this is a brilliant opportunity to do just that.  It is great that we are participating in a Europe-wide event.  Imagine how across Europe, scientists will be engaging with over half a million people on the same night – it has been a fantastic opportunity for us to take part in this’.


It really has been a fantastic opportunity working on this After Hours, and we are looking forward to a feast of science and great craic with our visitors, as the Irish say.


I went to a seminar today when one of our research scientists, Dr Greg Edgecombe, talked with us about his field work in Greenland on Micrognathozoa. I am no scientist, and this was an area of science utterly unknown to me. But it was truly fascinating to learn something perfectly new – and I hope that those of you who come to After Hours: Science Uncovered, will experience something similar.

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Join our NaturePlus Science Uncovered community to follow more of the hot science discussions and read the latest blogs.

 

Find out more about the night's activities and scientists in our What's on blog