If you’ve read Jenny and Ashley’s posts you’ll be familiar with our research group and what we got up to at the Diamond Light Source. I’m Natasha, a PhD student researching the use of micro-computed tomography to investigate meteorites and extraterrestrial material. But more about that in a later post! For now I thought I'd talk about the kind of thing we get up at outreach events outside of the Museum, where we get to talk to you about our amazing specimens.
As the weather has been so lovely recently, it put me in mind of the bank holiday weekend on 2-4 May, when around thirty Museum scientists and science educators decamped to the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival in Dorset. This annual festival is a fantastic event for enthusiasts, families, and anyone with any curiosity about the natural world (plus it’s a great excuse for a pasty and ice cream on the beach!)...
Two of us from the meteorites team took a variety of specimens, ranging from the iron meteorite Henbury, through the chondrite Parnallee, to a particular favourite of mine – the Martian meteorite, Nahkla. Penny (our resident impacts expert) also brought along some aerogel, similar to that used on the Stardust mission, and even a piece of a solar cell from the Hubble Space Telescope!
Penny Wozniakiewicz manning the the meteorites stand at Lyme Regis Fossil Festival.
The photograph below shows some more of the beautiful mineralogical specimens we took along. Each of these minerals and ores is crucial in the production of mobile phones! This was a great opportunity to show the economic importance of geology, but also to raise some awareness about the energy, effort and raw materials required to support our dependence on technology.
Some of these very important metals are not easily found on Earth, that’s why they are called ‘rare earth elements’. However, we know from studying meteorites that they are a lot more common in some asteroids.
This was my second time going to the festival, and I really enjoyed it. Lyme Regis offers the perfect chance to not only share access to our fantastic collection (and see the excitement on children’s faces when you let them hold a piece of the Moon!), but also to chat to a wide variety of people about the sort of work we do behind the scenes at the Museum. I think it’s definitely fair to say that a fun time was had by all!
What is the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival?
The festival incorporates a huge tent full of stalls from all sorts of museums, universities, craft stalls, and fossil dealers, with a series of talks, geological walks and family entertainment (including a fossil themed puppet show!).
Palaeontologists, botanists, entomologists, mineralogists, and meteoriticists from the Museum make their way down to the coast to share some of our treasures. One particularly popular table gave visitors the chance to sift for their own shark teeth.
The Lyme Regis Fossil Festival runs every year over the early May Bank Holiday. You can find more information about the 2014 festival, and stay up to date with news on the 2015 festival here.
Last, but not least, I spotted this awesome knitted ammonite in case any of you are looking for a new crafty project …
Read more from our scientists about the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival: