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NaturalHistoryMuseum_058502_Corals_fish-250.jpgCoral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They are built by corals, bryozoans, sponges, crustaceans and molluscs and also provide a home to larger animals. So you can only imagine the variety of fossils we will have on display at Science Uncovered this Friday from our researchers' recent collecting spree in Indonesia.

 


Our Science Station will be located in an alcove of Central Hall (orange no. 7 on the map [PDF]) and will showcase the work of 11 early stage researchers as they collaborate on the Throughflow Project. Their aim is to find out why the coral reefs in South East Asia are the most diverse in the world and how corals have responded to climate change.We have an array of fossil corals as well as a fossil giant clam we are preparing especially for the event, and much more.

 

Like many of the Science Stations at the event you will have the chance to meet the Museum scientists who conduct research on and are responsible for the care of these amazing specimens. We can answer your questions (for example, some of you may be wondering what a bryozoan is from my earlier sentence) and you’ll also be able to play our game "Coral Match," be the first to identify a sample of fossil corals, or become a "Foram Hunter" and use a microscope to find the single celled organisms we use to date our fossil samples. So come along and get involved!

 

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What would a Giant Clam like this one look like after it became fossilised around 25 million years ago?
© Terry Dormer / The Natural History Museum, London

 

 

What is the Throughflow Project?

 

The Throughflow Project is named after the only marine current that connects the Pacific and the Indian oceans, the Indonesian Throughflow. Scientific evidence shows a sudden increase in coral diversity around 25 million years ago during the Miocene. It is estimated that this is also a time when most modern taxa evolved. We already know that this was as a time of tectonic activity in the area as well as global climate change but what we want to determine is the effect this had on the coral reefs at the time.

 

The research groups’ webpage, www.ipaeg.org, has more information about the science of the project and the blogs from the Throughflow scientists are well worth a read.

 

 

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Our (lucky) researchers during the fieldtrip to Indonesia

 

Funded by the Marie Curie Initial Training Network and the FP7 People Programme, the project involves collaborations between seven European organisations as well as partners from Indonesia. At the Natural History Museum the Marie Curie Fellows are Emanuela Di Martino and Nadia Santodomingo who work on Bryozoans and Corals respectively. Meanwhile I’m joining them in the process of washing and then curating three tons of fossil coral samples with another five tons being shipped form Indonesia as we speak. Just to put that into perspective the average weight of an African elephant is around 4.6 tons. These fossil corals will form an important part of our collections for future research, especially in regard to climate change studies.

 

So please come and visit us at Science Uncovered.
See you there

 

Lyndsey Douglas

Indian and Indo-Pacific Corals Project Officer

 

About Science Uncovered 2011:

 

Science Uncovered is a free event on Friday 23 September 2011 at the Natural History Museum.  All events and tours at Science Uncovered will be free but, due to time and space constraints, some will require you to book free tickets in advance.

To find out more visit Science Uncovered on the Museum’s website.

 

The Natural History Museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, will also be holding its own Science Uncovered event. Find out more about Science Uncovered in Tring.

 

Online community

 

To get involved before the night, visit our Science Uncovered online community where you can get previews of what’s happening and join in with discussions and debates.

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So, come Friday 23 September, it’ll be time for us dusty old curators to kick off our sensible sandals and get fashion forward for this year’s free Science Uncovered event.

 

If you were expecting this:

 

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...think again, because for one night only we are sexy, sophisticated and scientific – like this:

 

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No? If you don’t believe me, you better come along to find out

 

Science Uncovered 2010 was the first year that the Museum opened its doors to the public on such an unprecedented scale. We were expecting a few thousand; but after a few weeks of blogging, twittering and Face-booking over 6000 of you came to see the secrets of the Natural History Museum revealed – some for the first time.

 

And not only our prized treasures of science, but our scientific staff, who, just like our specimens, don’t get out much! My experience last year was incredible, from 5pm to 10pm my colleagues and I did not stop talking – to you! It was simply amazing, invigorating and yes, exhausting to have the opportunity to engage on such a wide scale, and also on such an intimate scale with hundreds of conversations about the Museum, our specimens, and most pertinently our research.

 

Last year I spent my time on the Identification and Advisory Service’s ‘Identification Roadshow’ where we invited you to bring along your natural history finds for on the spot identification. Here I am, looking a little bit overwhelmed, along with Stuart Hine, Richard Lane and Gill Stevens in the foreground, along Dino-way, where this year you will find the entomology station.

 

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But this year I move over to my first love, the beetles!

 

Here’s one I found in Southeast London this summer, you may recognise it? And it may make an appearance on the night!

 

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With over 400,000 species of beetles in the world, and the NHM’s collection holding representatives of at least half of that figure, it’s quite hard to choose what we might talk about or put on display on the night. But because beetles are so diverse and occupy so many niches in the natural and unnatural environment we won’t be short on conversation; naturally we will show you specimens that exhibit sexual dimorphism (differences between the sexes), the incredible size range of beetles – from the smallest to the largest:

 

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Here is Conrad, a Scarab expert who will be there on the night, with one of the largest beetles in the world, the aptly named Titanus giganteus which may make an appearance…

 

We will also show you some of the most beautiful creatures in the world, for example this wonderful Plusiotis, a member of the shining leaf-chafer beetle sub-family. Chrysina aurigans (Rothschild & Jordan, 1894): collected by Martin Brendell in the cloud forests of Costa Rica.

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Here is Max Barclay, who will be available on the night at our entomology fieldwork Science Station armed with field equipment and some examples of what we find when we head off to research remote areas throughout the world.

 

Other colleagues include Hillery Warner, who is expert in photographing our specimens; see some of her work on Flickr here.

 

And the formidable Peter Hammond, previously senior researcher in Coleoptera, and now a Scientific associate, here is Peter, armed with those two most important of entomologist accessories: a pint of beer and a specimen tube (for beetles, of course…!)

 

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We can’t wait…can you?

 

About Science Uncovered 2011:

 

Science Uncovered is a free event on Friday 23 September 2011 at the Natural History Museum.  All events and tours at Science Uncovered will be free but, due to time and space constraints, some will require you to book free tickets in advance.

To find out more visit Science Uncovered on the Museum’s website.

 

The Natural History Museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, will also be holding its own Science Uncovered event. Find out more about Science Uncovered in Tring.

 

Online community

 

To get involved before the night, visit our Science Uncovered online community where you can get previews of what’s happening and join in with discussions and debates.

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Today we feature a guest blog by David de Rothschild, adventurer, environmentalist and the founder of MYOO, a meaningful marketing agency, online zine and adventure group, specialising in sustainability consultancy, material science and product design.


Alongside Dr Adrian Glover, Dr Katie Steele and Professor Tim Burke, David will be one of the prestigious speakers at the ‘Losing our Principles?’ special event at Science Uncovered on Friday 23 September 2011.


This debate, chaired by the journalist and former Guardian Science Editor Tim Radford, will focus on the risks and impacts of our ever-increasing reliance on natural resources and what approaches will be necessary to tackle them.


Losing our Prinicples is a free event but tickets must be booked online in advance.

 

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'Live SMART, not GREEN'
Copyright: www.myoo.com

 

To be totally honest, when I think of GREEN, the first image that comes to mind is a skinny-looking Alien with big black buggy eyes and frog legs. Now I know this sounds funny; you were probably expecting me to say the first image that comes to mind is a hybrid car, or a wind turbine, a reusable bag, zero emissions (whatever they look like) carbon offsets, or any other possible type of product, or innovation bearing the lofty and dizzying badge of being GREEN.


After all, these are the things we are told to think of as being green. Because somewhere along the way, green became more than just a colour. It became a SUPER colour. Superseding black, pink, yellow— and for that matter any other straightforward colour— “GREEN” became synonymous with a mighty big (albeit vague) promise. An implication that whatever the effect of the purchase or service, it would somehow contribute to a more sustainable planet and deliver us back to a harmonious balance with the natural world that probably hasn’t been felt since Adam, Eve and that little apple incident.


Cheered on by eco-celebrities, politicians, and entrepreneurs, society has embraced this “greenness”. The market is awash with feel-good, organic Jeans, organic moisturizers, and low-carbon diets. Most of this is moderately beneficial—or at least relatively harmless. But as other colours, like blue are touted as GREEN’s successor, and phrases like ‘Green fatigue’ and ‘Green-wash’ appear more frequently in conversation, it begs the question, is colour-coding our planet’s issues wise? Or are we looking at this all through the wrong lens?


As an experiment, I urge you to get in touch with your inner child and let your imagination run free. I want you to zoom out and take the “orbital view” (as our MYOOZE J. Carl Ganter puts it) of the planet. To do that, I want you to imagine that you’re the alien visiting from planet SMART. While taking your new biometrically grown UFO for a neighbourhood spin, you find yourself stumbling across planet Earth. Intrigued by your discovery, you decide to take a closer look. Beneath, you glimpse a crosshatch of airplanes, a web of factories, and a humming network of highways.


The questions is, would you consider this planet you’ve stumbled upon an intelligently advanced super species that had designed a SMART planet like your own, overflowing with SMART ideas, systems, products and services that, like an olden-day traveller, you could triumphantly take back to improve your own planet? Or would you speed off, relieved that you didn’t have to live amongst all the hot, polluted, dumb mess?


earth-from-space-001889_IA-copyright-natural-history-museum.jpgIf green is the colour to be, then thinking “Green” might mean forgetting everything we’ve been taught and seeing our planet with a visitor’s eyes. What if we didn’t speak the eco-language? If we could no longer rely on jargon like “Energy Security”, “CO2”, melting icecaps”, “compact fluros” or the self assigned GREEN saviour, “Carbon Offsets” to describe the world we saw? Then perhaps the real innovations would become clear.


For all the enthusiasm, noise and momentum, the scientific, political, industrial, and consumer consensus, we have ended up with a lukewarm campaign that at best, feels like it could make it to the end of the year but maybe even only to the end of the week. A campaign that for the most part, still feels like a chore, and for all the postulating and passionate rhetoric, was always most clearly articulated by Kermit the frog when he noted, “It isn’t easy being green”.


The latest science has now given our planet, at most, one decade left to stop the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions and begin the transition to a sustainable global environmental economy. The outcome of this monumental task is ultimately going to depend on our ability to act now, and quickly. So the question has to be: WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?  What’s stopping us from acting on the information we already have?


Without trying to oversimplify the situation at hand, it’s fair to say that GREEN has officially become a ‘thing’. What was initially coined to prevent a global meltdown has become a means to trivialize the issue, i.e. “I have walked my dog, I have paid my taxes, and oh, I’ve done that GREEN thing’. It also comes with a myriad of confusing, abstract terminology and a flotilla of products that create just enough distraction from the truly important global issues to ultimately delay humanity from undertaking the enormous challenges that lie ahead.


Tucked behind all the disaster headlines is a much larger list of solutions to current inefficiencies that already exist within our current systems!  So as we continue to strive for better terminology, let’s also engage in a little smart thinking.


As with Climate Change, change can be threatening. But it can also be a perpetual source of opportunity.  Having a coherent language for the “GREEN” movement seems like a good thing, but it also hides the fact that no one movement has the answer.  By labelling some things GREEN and some things not, we lose sight of the fact that we’ve never been separate from each other or from nature at all.


We can no longer afford to mine the past or mortgage the future. To get us back on to a sustainable path, we need to start living within our means. That also means living within the limits of our natural capital. Waste is no longer acceptable—industrialized society is gobbling up our natural capital at an increasing rate, presenting an urgent threat to humanity. Let’s start taking responsibility for our impacts, let go of linear thinking and embrace the cyclical where our outputs simply become the inputs of another process.  Let’s continue to move to a de-materialized economy, based primarily on information and services, rather than products. The most resilient, adaptable, creative, and sustainable systems are decentralized and networked. Let’s work together to create economic systems that go beyond the 'winner takes all' model and allow for humans everywhere to have a chance to aspire to more than just survival.


If there’s just one thing I hope you saw during your brief trip to space looking down on our earth, its that on a basic level, there’s no getting away from “being GREEN,” since there is nowhere really “away” where we can throw our problems. Everything is interconnected and interdependent—businesses, economies, societies and ecologies, me and you. There are also no easy answers, no final destination, and no one-size-fits-all solutions.  But the interconnectivity that currently threatens the planet is also our most promising hope for revitalizing it.  And getting smarter now about the way we think, problem-solve and work together is the first and most vital step of that journey.


— David de Rothschild

 

You can follow David and MYOO on Twitter as @DRexplore and @MYOO.

 

 

About Science Uncovered 2011:

 

Science Uncovered is a free event on Friday 23 September 2011 at the Natural History Museum.  All events and tours at Science Uncovered will be free but, due to time and space constraints, some will require you to book free tickets in advance.

To find out more visit Science Uncovered on the Museum’s website.

 

The Natural History Museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, will also be holding its own Science Uncovered event. Find out more about Science Uncovered in Tring.

 

Online community

 

To get involved before the night, visit our Science Uncovered online community where you can get previews of what’s happening and join in with discussions and debates.

0

Following the amazing success of last year's event, we're gearing up for our second Science Uncovered festival on Friday 23 September.

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The Museum's Science Uncovered event celebrates European Researchers' Night in London, and we join over 300 other cities across Europe in our festivities.

 

This year looks set to be on a much grander and more impressive scale than in 2010. We're opening a lot more of the Museum on the night. The dazzling array of shows, discussion opportunities, behind-the-scenes tours and fun activities such as Crime Scene Live and Science Fight Club, will reveal just how varied and cutting-edge our scientific research is here.

 

To avoid disappointment through some activities being over-subscribed on the night, you can pre-book tickets in advance. The evening is free to attend and all the activiities are free. Even if you don't pre-book, there are lots of things to drop-in on and enjoy during the evening and some family activities that start in the late afternoon.

 

I asked Stephen Roberts, the Museum's Nature Live team manager, who's masterminding this science extravaganza to tell us more:

 

'This year's Science Uncovered is a mind-boggling realisation! There are hundreds of different opportunities for visitors to spend time with some of the world's greatest scientists who are coming out, for one night only, in the stunning setting of the Museum at night, and over a drink too.

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A star attraction at the Zoology Science Station in Fossil Way is sure to be the Tasmanian tiger cub specimen held in our collections. The above is a mounted adult specimen of the now extinct Tasmanian tiger.

'Two hundred of our own scientists are joined by over 100 other researchers from around London whose expertise ranges from mammoths to Mars, phytoplankton to philosophy and surgery to spiders. There is, quite literally, something for everybody.

 

'As well as the amazing objects coming out of the collections for the first time, like the now extinct Tasmanian tiger (pictured above) an unprecedented 92 tours will take visitors to some of our favourite places and spaces in and around the Museum.

 

'The word unmissable is bandied about in the media, but if ever there were a time to use it for something happening at the Museum, this is it!'

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Meteorites like Tamdakht above, which fell in Morocco 2008, are helping our scientists reveal the secrets of our solar system. The meteorite is on show at Science Uncovered's Space Station in the Museum's Red Zone.

Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum says: 'We’re looking forward to welcoming even more people to this year’s event [about 7,000 visitors came in 2010], and inspiring them to take a fresh look at a subject they thought they already knew.'

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So with five bars open and over 150 activites to join, it should be a great night out.

 

Have a look at our website to find out what's on. And if you're nearer Hertfordshire than London, our Tring Museum is also joining us on the night with its own celebrations.

 

See what's on at Science Uncovered at the Natual History Museum, London

 

Find out what's on at Science Uncovered at the Tring Museum

 

Book online for Science Uncovered ticketed events

 

You can also join our Science Uncovered community online now to see what scientists are preparing to discuss on the night and for more news and views.

 

Right: One of the Museum tours at Science Uncovered takes visitors into our Conservation Unit, pictured here, where you'll see how we mend everything from broken bones to casts and books.