After hours in the Science Museum

Science Museum DJThis evening my friends and I went to the Science of Music event at the Science Museum in South Kensington. The evening was part of Science Museum Lates, a monthly adults only event where the museum is open until 10pm and special talks and displays are laid on.

The place was pretty packed out with a surprisingly young and trendy crowd. Four of the museum’s seven floors were open, and each handily had several bars and DJs, surely a prerequisite for an event about music. There was even a silent disco, somewhat incongruously located among the satellites and rockets in the Exploring Space gallery.

First off we went to to the Launchpad area, an interactive hands on gallery that is usually packed with kids on a daytime visit to the museum. Instead we had the gallery to ourselves and got to have a proper play with things like electromagnets, generators, and circuit boards.

We then tried to catch the break dance demonstrations in the flight gallery. Alas we only made it for the tail end, but we did find out how angular momentum affects how fast a break dancer can spin on their head: arms out, they slow down; arms flat against their body, they speed up.

Materials man close upMaterials in the bodyWe were unexpectedly quite fascinated by the Plasticity exhibition, which showcases 100 years of plastics. I was particularly interested in the US Olympic ski suit, which had foam pads on areas like the shoulders and forearms that are soft when racing but instantly turn hard impact to absorb shock energy.

While we’re on the subject of materials, another of my favourite exhibits in the that I saw this evening was this “materials man,” who shows the anatomical location and real size of a selection the medical materials and devices that are currently in use.

In the close up, you can see a silicone artificial larynx, a carbon fibre bone plate, a titanium and silicone cardiac pacemaker, and a polytetrafluoroethene methanical aortic valve.  Dentures and a glass eye are in there as well.

All in all, the event was a great chance to have a look around the museum in a laid back atmosphere without hundreds of kids tearing around the place. Oh, and with a beer in my hand, always a bonus!

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