Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Nature Live

32 Posts tagged with the scientists tag

So last night we finished our special Attenborough Studio showcase events for the Royal Launch of the Darwin Centre - it was a real treat with no less that 6 scientists involved, live video links from the field as well as behind the scenes and some of the most amazing specimens we have ever seen in the studio. Topping it all off Sir David himself was in the audience.


Spider curator Jan kicked off with some tongue-in-cheek comparisons between spider and human courtship – just a few of the tricks used by the >40,000 different species of spiders to get all eight of their legs over. To honour the occasion we also saw spiders collected by Darwin himself.


We then went live to Adrian's deep sea observatory off the coast of Sweden and had a quite surreal conversation with Bjorn – who was diving next to a whale carcass at the time. We saw a new species of  bone eating snot flower worm (translation from the scientific name!) that Adrian has discovered that, as the name suggests lives on bones of dead whales and such like. You can watch the live stream from the whale bones  - I can't guarantee that Bjorn will be there - though you are quite likely to see the crabs and starfish.


From the deep sea we switched to deep time with Paul, just back from South Africa where he had been digging up early dinosaur fossils like this one we have on display. We saw another new species but we can't be sure until Scott, the Museum's fossil preparator, grinds, drills and picks all of the rock away. There were a few grimaces as his dentist's drill wirred away but it was cool to have a live demonstration in the studio and some of the kids even had a go.


Anyhow, the finale, if you like, was Al and Caroline from mineralogy. Al showed off some enourmous sparkly diamonds, the ultimate mineral from 200 km into the mantle - deep earth - and Caroline, who started in the basement collections area, showed us the meteorite Ivuna – the best example of the building blocks of the solar system and one of just 9 such meteorites (out of thousands) known to exist - from deep space. They wrapped up with a mineral face off – asking a visitor to hold a 460-carat dirty diamond - over 3 billion years old and formed deep within the earth – in one hand and a small piece of the planet Mars in the other. To Al's dismay Mars won - 7 times out of 8.


It sounds quite chaotic but was a huge team effort that all came together in less than 30 minutes and was all snippets taken from some of the great events happening in the studio over the next couple of weeks.Attenborough studio launch team photo.JPG



Today will go down in history. Not world history but this momentous day should at least figure as a footnote in the Museum’s vast annals. It’s the very last Nature Live event in the Marine Invertebrates Gallery. Obviously I’m excited about moving into the brand shiny new Attenborough Studio where there’ll be lots of new technology for us to break but having hosted events in MI for the last 3 years it’s the end of an era.


The last show was with Dr Shelley Cook who works in our entomology department and I think has probably been to nearly every country on my wish list. She looks for new viruses that are carried by mosquitoes and could potentially be passed on to other animals and maybe even humans.


We spoke about the importance of her science and mosquito diversity; did you know that there are some mosquitoes that are so specialised they only live in the water that collects in elephant footprints! We got some good questions; my favourite being ‘how fast do mosquitoes fly? Answer: we don’t know.


Then we get on to the ‘best’ bit…how you collect them. I suggest that maybe she offers herself up as a sacrifice; I seem to get bitten within the confines of the M25 so it shouldn’t be too difficult in a Thai jungle. But she can go one better. The ghostbuster pack. Yes, it looks just like something that was used by Bill Murray. It’s basically a 20kg mosquito vacuum that is worn as a backpack but when they spot some mossies they flip the switch and the fun begins. Call me evil but there must be some joy in collecting the insects that feasted on your flesh the previous evening. So once they have been collected up they are put on ice at minus 80C. Where you find those sorts of temperatures in a jungle is one of the wonders of modern science!

1 2 3 Previous Next