The space missions looking to understand more about water in our Solar System | Planetary Science PhD Students

It is an incredibly exciting time to be studying asteroids – two incredible space missions are reaching the most exciting phases of their journeys! On the 27th June this year, the Japanese Space Agency mission ‘Hayabusa2’ arrived at the near Earth asteroid Ryugu, after travelling for three and a half years and travelling 3.2 billion kilometres. On the 3rd December the NASA mission OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) will arrive at the near Earth asteroid Bennu.

These two missions are ‘sample return’ missions, which means they will try and collect some material from the asteroids and then bring them back to Earth, so we can do detailed analyses, which would be impossible to do remotely.
Continue reading “The space missions looking to understand more about water in our Solar System | Planetary Science PhD Students”

“Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 2 | Digital Collections Programme

Guest Blog by Phaedra Kokkini

This is the second part of the story behind about the ALICE pilot project. While the first part focused on piloting our ‘Angled Label Image Capture and Extraction’ or ALICE, this part will focus on the collection and collector. Quite unexpectedly, while preparing our chosen collection for imaging I got to know a person through his collection of pinned insects. Continue reading ““Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 2 | Digital Collections Programme”

“Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 1 | Digital Collections Programme

Guest Blog by Phaedra Kokkini

If you visit our Digitisation Team, you might be drawn to one of our more curious imaging setups, the ‘Angled Label Image Capture and Extraction’ or to close friends: ALICE.

ALICE came about through the collaboration of  Small Orders Curator Dr Ben Price and Digital Collections Project Manager Dr Steen Dupont in order to automate some of the processes to speed up our pinned insect digitisation.

A peculiar setup that used to feature a bucket and six cameras is now a hexagonal light box with cameras that can image pinned insect specimens at multiple angles to digitally extract the attached labels and could provide a breakthrough to an even faster specimen digitisation.

Dr Steen Dupont describes ALICE

I was very excited to start this project as the first test of ALICE’s true potential. What I didn’t expect was that the collection chosen to test ALICE would reveal some stunning wasps and an intriguing untold story of its previous owner. Continue reading ““Mr. Cooper, meet ALICE.” – Part 1 | Digital Collections Programme”

Autumn BioBlitz in the Wildlife Garden | Citizen science

Come and join Museum scientists, naturalists and other nature enthusiasts for a fun day of discovering wildlife in the heart of London!

The BioBlitz is back at the Natural History Museum on Thursday 25 October 2018. Head to the Wildlife Garden in the Orange Zone of the Museum and prepare to step into a world full of wildlife ready to be explored.

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Butterfly survey with Museum scientist Geoff Martin

A BioBlitz is a race against the clock to find and record as many living things as possible within a specific area over a set period of time. These observations, which you will help to gather, are then used for scientific research and environmental monitoring by our wildlife garden managers and are shared with scientists in the UK and abroad.

We discovered 12 species that had never been recorded in the Wildlife Garden before when we BioBlitzed in May half term – three spiders, seven flies, an aphid and a moth. It just shows that if you look carefully, there are new and exciting things to discover even in our own gardens! What will we find this time round?

Continue reading “Autumn BioBlitz in the Wildlife Garden | Citizen science”

97 year old fin whale vertebrae uncovered in Devon sand dunes

The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) was recently called out to the stranding of a harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, in Westward Ho! in north Devon. The porpoise was a suitable candidate to collect for post-mortem, and so plans were made for the strandings team to travel to pick it up.

As part of the trip to Westward Ho!, a ranger from Northam Burrows Country Park asked if the Museum was able to provide an identification on three whale vertebrae they had, to allow them to display the bones in their visitors centre. Little did anyone know the full story behind the vertebrae was about to be uncovered!

Continue reading “97 year old fin whale vertebrae uncovered in Devon sand dunes”

Museum at War: a snapshot of the NHM during WWI | Library and Archives

The centenary of the First World War (1914-1918) has generated a great deal of new research. It has brought to the fore stories that have enabled us to learn a lot more about our country’s history, many of which had, until this point, been widely unknown.

Marking this four year period has focused the minds not only of individuals but also businesses and organisations, encouraging us to take a closer look at the affect the Great War had on ordinary lives. The Natural History Museum is one such organisation, and October saw the publication of A Museum at War: Snapshots of life at the Natural History Museum during World War One written by Karolyn Shindler (Library and Archives Associate).

Continue reading “Museum at War: a snapshot of the NHM during WWI | Library and Archives”

Illustrating our Collections | Digital Collections Programme

Seven illustration and reportage graduates and two tutors from the University of the West of England (UWE) recently visited the Digital Collection Programme. We took them behind the scenes showing them our innovative technology and the entomology and botany collection in order to inspire their love of nature. In return, the artists renewed our creativity and enabled us to see our work with fresh eyes.

 ‘Witnessing the digitisation process was fascinating and knowing about the digital archive means I have a vast and rich resource to access’ Jay Simpson, UWE graduate

Continue reading “Illustrating our Collections | Digital Collections Programme”

Digitising our jumping plant lice | Digital Collection Programme

Guest blog by Robyn Crowther, Digitiser

After digitising our parasitic lice, we were looking for another microscope slide collection to digitise using the same methodology, having cut down our imaging time for each slide to 14 seconds. So when the opportunity to digitise the beautiful psyllid slide collection arose, we jumped at the chance. Continue reading “Digitising our jumping plant lice | Digital Collection Programme”

Portraits inspired by data |Digital Collections Programme

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An algorithm produced portraits of Museum visitors made up of digital specimens instead of pixels – zoom in to see the specimens in each image.

On Friday 28 September we took part in European Researchers Night and tried something new with museum visitors. We have been experimenting with recreating photographs that contain digital specimens in place of the usual pixels. Continue reading “Portraits inspired by data |Digital Collections Programme”