Natural History Museum London Out of Hours

Natural History Museum London Out of Hours

Last week I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Natural History Museum in London with no-one else around. It’s one of my favourite places to visit in the UK and even better it is completely FREE.

If you do want to take a look around I would recommend going early in the morning to avoid the crowds. I would also recommend taking a look online and time your visit so you can attend one of  the special sessions such as NATURE LIVE which run daily. At these short talks you can hear from the researchers and curators who work behind the exhibitions on display with the collections.
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There is so much more to the museum than dinosaurs but it wouldn’t be right to feature a blog post without  a picture of Dippy.

Speaking of collections, you wouldn’t believe it from the empty looking main hall in the photograph below but there are over 70 MILLION specimens held in the museum. 70 MILLION. Can you get your head round a number that big? I can’t. These range from giant squid to tiny specimens on microscopic slides.

I had a spare 30 minutes to take the ‘spirit tour’ at the museum which was fantastic but be warned it can be a bit gruesome (see the photo of the partially digested squid head found in a sperm whales stomach below – I would love to have one of those on my mantelpiece). I learnt a lot more about the museum from the trail and the guide was able to answer questions about the specimens and collections. The tours run daily and give a peek into some of the specimens in the museum. The giant squid was impressive but seeing some of the original specimens Darwin collected on the Beagle voyage was very special.
I also learnt that the museum uses flesh eating beetles to clean the bones of specimens and I saw a jar of sperm whale eyes. It would be a great visit for a Halloween trip.
Beyond the exhibitions that make you go WOW, OOH and EWW. The museum is also an active research institute partnering with universities around the globe to answer some of the big scientific questions from understanding complex ecosystems to investigating the fundamental geological processes that shape our planet and solar system. These questions are being answered through use of the museum collections, expertise and resources.
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Darwin watching over the main hall.
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The Earth Hall. Unfortunately the escalators weren’t working so I couldn’t travel through the Earth.
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A partially digested head from a Sperm Whale’s stomach of course.
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Disco rocks are found on the first floor of the museum.
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This was my favourite exhibition in the museum which is the Images of Nature gallery. There are some beautiful drawings, paintings and visualisations of nature.
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I was visiting the museum for Universities Week 2014 so there were lots of pop-up exhibitions going on including a volcano on the lawn.  
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A view of  of the main hall from above
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At the very top of the hall is a section of trunk from the giant sequoia tree. It’s HUGE and this tree was over 1300 years old when it was felled. 
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The museum is far to big to get round in one day. I’ve been a number of times and still haven’t seen most of the building. I’m glad I wandered up to the top of the hall to see this ceiling though.

I really enjoyed  the ‘Treasures’ exhibition too and you can explore that online. It’s a small exhibition but each of the exhibits in this collection are of mind-blowingly huge significance. This includes a first edition book of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species published in 1859 and the oldest UK lion skull since the extinction of wild cave lions. I didn’t even know these were a thing.

If you walk through the doors of the Natural History Museum I think it’s impossible to walk out again without saying ‘Wow, I never knew that’.

The museum is open every day from 10 am and is FREE!

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The Cruickshank Botanical Gardens

The Cruickshank Botanical Gardens

Today I took a stroll through the beautiful Cruickshank Botanic Gardens in Aberdeen. The gardens are free to visit and open every day in the summer from 9am until 7pm. More information about the gardens including an interactive online map for those not lucky enough to be in Aberdeen can be found here.
 
If you visit the gardens during the week you might catch a glimpse of some of the researchers working in the greenhouses. There’s lots of active research in soil and food sciences at the university going on and you can read some more about it here.
 
There’s a cafe sci talk on soil science later in the year too!
And just to prove that the gardens are in Aberdeen because you might not believe me….
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There are benches in the garden where you can sit and have some lunch so they are perfect for a picnic on a sunny day!

 

Things to do in Aberdeen at the beginning of April

Things to do in Aberdeen at the beginning of April


Looking for something new in Aberdeen this April?… Here’s a round up of exciting goings on that you might want to check out… 

Friday 4th April – Engineering in the Ancient World: Building the Parthenon 
New Kings 10 7.30 pm- Free Tickets here


A FREE (whoop) talk about engineering in history on a Friday night. No prior knowledge of subjects required. 


7th -11th April – Easter Science Club 
Satrosphere Science Centre


Various workshops, fun and games with science for kids of all ages. More info here.


Saturday 12th April – The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets with author Simon Singh 


A talk followed by a Q&A. Suitable for adults and teenagers. Book signing will be taking place after the event in the Cineworld bar. Event organised by Aberdeen Skeptics in the Pub and British Science Association Branch in Aberdeen. 

Not interested in a talk? Why not visit Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens or Duthie Park (all COMPLETELY FREE)! 

Seen any other interesting events that I haven’t mentioned? Email me!

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National Science and Engineering Week in Aberdeen

National Science and Engineering Week in Aberdeen

National Science and Engineering Week starts this week in the UK.

There’s a whole programme of interesting speakers, workshops, hands on activities for people of all ages covering a HUGE array of topics taking place all over the UK.

There are lots of free events in Aberdeen and there is a lovely shiny brochure! All put together by the British Science Association Branch in Aberdeen (disclosure, I am a branch member).

Nearly all events are free and most don’t even require booking so there is no excuse not to try out something new this week.  

If getting outdoors is your thing why not join the forestry commission in the woods? or take a walk in the gardens? Or if you want to experience some science while relaxing with a coffee then there are talks from researchers covering the latest findings and thoughts on topics such as Parkinson’s Disease to talks on the history of how we mapped the globe. These are all taking place at various locations in the city every night next week. We will even have a visit from the children’s book author Lucy Hawking (daughter of Stephen).

Don’t miss Discovery Day either, this is a chance to visit Satrosphere Science Centre (FOR FREE) and mingle with scientists and researchers, watch some science shows and try your hands at some fun activities and exciting challenges.

Hope to see you there! 

Free COOL stuff in Aberdeen this week!

Free COOL stuff in Aberdeen this week!

Looking for something new and FREE to do this week in Aberdeen? 

Tuesday 18th Feb – Cafe Controversial ‘buy one throw one out’ Satrosphere Science Centre 7pm, just turn up! 

A short, informal talk about how we solve the problems of food waste – is it all the fault of supermarkets? Talk (30mins ish) followed by a lengthier Q&A with coffee (and awesome cakes and tray bakes available to buy). No prior knowledge of subjects required. 

Wednesday 19th Feb – Cafe Scientifique ‘What the Frack?’ Waterstones, Union Street 7pm, just turn up!

A short, informal talk (30mins ish) followed by a lengthier Q&A with tea and coffee available to buy. No prior knowledge of subjects required. There should be an interesting discussion at this one!

Thursday 20th Feb – Aberdeen Skeptics in the Pub ‘Why women want fake looking breasts’ The Bar Below, Belmont Cinema, 7.45 pm, just turn up!

A straight talking short talk (45mins) followed by a Q&A with alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks available. Suitable for an over 18s audience due to adult themes. Plenty of people come on their own to these events so don’t feel uncomfortable about just turning up!
At the weekend.. Why not visit the Aberdeen Maritime Museum for an exhibition on astronomy (FREE), or the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens or Duthie Park (yes, all FREE)! 

6pm, Suttie Centre Cafe Foresterhill Health Campus

Hear from researchers and clinicians in the same place to discuss the past, future and present of dealing with male cancer and how those affected and their families cope. 
Short, informal talks (15 mins each) followed by a lengthier Q&A with coffee and tea available to buy. No prior knowledge of subjects required. 

Seen any others that I haven’t mentioned? Email me!