The Science Museum

Closest Underground Station: South Kensington

Admission: Free (donation requested)

I’m back with another museum special! A couple of weeks ago, I was in my usual predicament of being in London with a couple of hours to kill and the way I always love to fill this time is by visiting a museum!

The Science Museum is another museum I haven’t visited since childhood. I think the word ‘science’ has put me off and so this was low on my list of places to revisit as an adult. That was until I actually went and remembered how FUN it was.

Upon entry, I was kind of stressed out about the donation situation. I had rocked up without any cash because generally, all museums in London are free to enter. At the Science Museum however, you can’t really pass without donating £5 because there’s someone waiting there to lay a major guilt trip on you! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about supporting museums but give an unemployed sister a break…

But because I’m British and always worried about being awkward/causing a scene, I promptly left to get cash and walked into the museum more confidently. Once all of that was out of the way, I was free to explore the museum without the crushing weight of people judging me.

Originally opened in 1857 by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, it formed part of the South Kensington Museum. This museum was mainly dedicated to industrial arts but contained nods to science through certain galleries. In 1909, the museum became independent and the Science Museum was formed as a separate entity. Today, the museum changes and develops along with the pace of science and technology.

Space capsule

The first exhibit I became interested in was the section about space exploration. Around the age of 13, I became obsessed with aliens, space travel and the moon landing. In fact, in one physics class my best friend Chalupa and I presented a VERY brilliant poster about aliens to our teacher and were surprised that she was less than impressed. She threw the poster away but it’s fine I’m totally over it. Even though it took ages to make. But no seriously I’m fine.

I learnt some pretty crazy facts in this part of the museum:

  • Space is only 50 miles away vertically
  • Astronauts on the Apollo moon missions brought back 400kg of lunar samples and these samples can now only be stored in nitrogen filled glass, because they cannot come into contact with the Earth’s atmosphere
  • The moon is thought to be around 4.5 billion years old
  • The moon landing may not have taken place so soon had the USA not been so competitive with the Russian space programme.
A piece of the moon

As I progressed up the levels, I came to a gallery called “Who Am I?” This section of the museum relates to the science of what makes up a human being. This starts with the origins of the human species and our physical makeup, all the way to intelligence, emotions and ageing.

This exhibit is incredibly interactive and I spent a lot of my time doing quizzes to find out if I have a male brain or a female brain, as well as taking photos at another booth to see how I’d look as a man (upsettingly, not all that different) (IS THAT WHY THE CASHIER AT SAINSBURY’S CALLED ME SIR THAT TIME?).

This was achieved by being crap at maths – not sure if I’m ok with this

The section I ended in was the gallery about climate change. I expected this to be kind of dry, but as I sat down in front of another interactive learning session, I found myself becoming increasingly passionate about global warming.

After watching a recording where an expert gave opinions on the severity of climate change and the theories behind prevention vs. cure, I was able to input my own thoughts to become part of a group discussion. The recording was a real eye opener for me. I will confess that while I recycle, take public transport and care about the environment as much as the next person, the topic of climate change is never something I’ve gone out of my way to learn about in depth.

I’m not saying that I’ve turned into an eco-warrior now, but some of the things I learnt were very worrying, especially the idea behind climate engineering. Climate engineering is comprised of two proposed/theoretical strategies to combat the ongoing deterioration of the planet. It is an umbrella term for:

  1. Solar radiation management – the process of deflecting sunlight away from the Earth in order to reduce global warming; and
  2. Carbon dioxide removal.

I found myself getting involved with the debate of prevention vs. cure and came up with an analogy to end my point. If we equate the Earth to a person on the brink of obesity, would we first encourage diet and exercise to improve or stabilise the situation (mitigation) or would we slice them open and insert a gastric band once the damage has been done (climate engineering)? In my opinion, the Earth and the rest of the universe can be observed and measured by science, but I don’t believe that it can or should be controlled by it. Our universe is bigger than science, it holds so many secrets and mysteries that we may never discover, so rather than keeping it alive on life support we should try as hard as possible to keep it healthy right now.

3rd rock from the Sun

I’m certainly pleased that I’m a little more informed about the potential fate of the planet and I think that marks the success of this museum trip! Have you ever visited the Science Museum? What was your favourite section?

If you’ve enjoyed my review of this museum, you can find similar reviews here.

Thanks for reading,

~ Plane Emoji

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