Can biofuels solve the planetary emergency we are facing? | PREDICTS biodiversity team

In this post, masters student Sophie Jane Tudge details her research into biofuels.

Carbon-neutral energy sounds like it is exactly what the world needs right now. With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) almost upon us, more people than ever are asking how we can halt climate change to protect our planet and, ultimately, ourselves. The greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels have led to many countries, including the UK, to make commitments to shift over to renewable energy sources. But renewable energy does not always mean that it is good for the environment. Let’s take a look at one growing form of renewable energy: biofuels. 

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Angela Milner: a life in science

Museum palaeontologist Paul Barrett remembers his former colleague Angela Milner, who passed away earlier this month.

Dr Angela Milner (née Girven, b. 1947) was one of the most influential figures in the field of vertebrate palaeontology, with interests spanning 350 million years of Earth history. She spent most of her career at the Natural History Museum, London, joining its ranks as a curator in 1976 and rising through the organization to become Assistant Keeper of Palaeontology, a position that she held until retirement in 2009.

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Bringing conulariids to life | Earth Sciences Curator

Aperture of Conularia aff. cancellata from the Macrourus Limestone of Brandenburg (NHMUK PI CL 1325).

Conulariids are scyphozoans characterised by their pyramidal shapes, which have been found in more or less straight to weakly curved forms. More strongly curved periderms are more often to be found in long individuals (~15 cm +), as happens with recent scyphozoans, e.g. the polyps of Atorella, that are normally attached to the underside or the flank surfaces of a host and develop upwards as they grow longer.


Reconstruction of living conulariids. Courtesy of Enrique Sendino.

Werner was the first researcher to compare conulariids to coronates and believed the first conulariids were ancestors of coronates. His theory has been echoed in numerous papers by different researchers for over 50 years.

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Visualising the global WPY image collection – A 3D web experiment

http://static.nhm.ac.uk/wpy-globe-experiment/globe?tags= (NHM VPN required)

During lock down, I worked on a personal side project to progress my knowledge in web-based 3D interactive visualisations. I’d always been inspired by the global reach of the WPY images and the feelings they invoke when considering each image’s precious, far-flung environment and wanted to create something that helped capture that. I’d seen several impressive 3D globe and collection visualisations (e.g. https://artsexperiments.withgoogle.com/tsnemap/) and wanted to investigate how they implemented acceptable performance (load times and frame rate) as an online interactive collection viewer running on a range of devices, knowing enough about the web and 3D to understand the specialist approaches required.

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Uncovering the hidden diversity of species in urban areas | Urban Nature Project

A man wearing blue gloves sits hunched over a tray of tubes as he uses a pair of tweezers to place small pieces of insects into each one

Over the past year, the Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project team have been working together on a project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Thanks to money from National Lottery players, we’ve been able to develop and test cutting-edge scientific tools and methods that will help study the natural world in new ways and transform our understanding of urban wildlife across the UK.

In this blog, the Museum’s UK Biodiversity Officer Sam Thomas talks about how we have been working with partners across the UK to better understand and protect urban nature.

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Gone fishing – first collection move pilot study underway | Clare Atkinson, Collections Assistant

Imagine inspecting millions of specimens collected over hundreds of years to check the correct information is recorded on the database, including where they are located. If it doesn’t exist in the database, imagine having to individually enter the correct information for these millions of specimens. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, imagine being timed while you do it. This is happening right now in a pilot study at the Museum’s South London storage facility, in preparation for the biggest move of specimens since the Museum opened in 1881.

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Preparing for the Museum’s largest ever move of natural history specimens | Sarah-Jane Newbery, Harwell Moves Project Manager

Me and Dolly the dog (not yet part of the moves team)

How do you lift a whale, pack a bear, or keep molecular samples at sub-zero temperatures as they navigate the M4? Welcome to my world, the world of the Harwell Moves Project Manager at the Natural History Museum…

Moves management is not really a job you come across on a regular basis, and when I get asked how I ended up in this career it can sometimes be a little awkward to say it was somewhat influenced by my love of Prince. Yes, that Prince, 80s visionary, Purple Rain pioneer and all-time legend. But I must admit that when I was given the option in one of my first roles at the National Archives of either going on archive management training or a PRINCE2 course (a methodology used for project management), it was obvious what I’d choose…

Last year I had the privilege of joining the museum to manage the exciting, if slightly daunting(!), move of millions of specimens to our new science and digitisation centre at Harwell Campus (you can find out more about the project here). This is a huge 6-year programme which will involve moving some of the biggest and smallest specimens on the planet, and over the past few months we’ve been starting to plan how we might go about achieving it.

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