“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”

Portraits inspired by data |Digital Collections Programme

canvas ERN
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”

Digitising British Bumblebees |Digital Collections Programme

Bombus hortorum also known as the garden bumblebee displays a wide range of colour forms.

A bumblebee is any one of over 250 species in the Bombus genus, whose name derives from the Latin for a buzzing or humming sound. We have been digitising the Museum’s collection of British Bumblebees in order to release a new resource to those researching and working with Bees globally.  Continue reading “Digitising British Bumblebees |Digital Collections Programme”

Digitisation of unlikely pioneer’s collection answers key questions in evolution and helps train future scientists | Digital Collections Programme

Henry Buckley (1939-2002) is a relatively unknown pioneer in the world of Foraminifera. Buckley was discouraged from publicising his collection, up until recently this collection wasn’t well known in the micropalaeontological community but all that is changing.

The Buckley collection has been digitised and today is helping Museum PhD students to answer questions on evolution. Yale University also plan to use this collection to train new generations of scientists to identify modern planktonic foraminifera and to help develop automatic recognition software in the future.

Continue reading “Digitisation of unlikely pioneer’s collection answers key questions in evolution and helps train future scientists | Digital Collections Programme”

4 million digital specimens and counting | Digital Collections Programme

This image of Carl Linnaeus has been created from Museum specimens rather than pixels.

The Museum’s Data Portal has passed 4 million specimens, representing around 5% of the Museum’s entire collection.

The Data Portal was launched in December 2014. In addition to Museum specimens, the Data Portal also hosts 5.3 million other research records and over 100 datasets from internal and external authors.  The Portal is a platform for researchers to make their research and collections datasets available online for anyone to explore, download and re-use.

Continue reading “4 million digital specimens and counting | Digital Collections Programme”

Uniting Europe’s 1.5 billion specimens | Digital Collection Programme

1) DiSSCO Map
An initiative that unites 21 countries,114 museums and 5000+ Scientists

European Natural Science collections contain around 1.5 billion specimens representing an estimated 55% of global collections and 80% of the worlds bio- and geo-diversity.  Data derived from these collections underpin countless innovations, including tens of thousands of scholarly publications, products critical to our bio-economy, databases, maps and descriptions of scientific observations. Continue reading “Uniting Europe’s 1.5 billion specimens | Digital Collection Programme”

Digitising Darwin’s Discoveries | Digital Collections Programme

3D Scanning Darwin's Fossil Mammals
3D laser scanning Darwin’s Fossil Mammals

In 2014, Professor Adrian Lister began research for his book on the fossils collected by Charles Darwin on the Voyage of the Beagle. As part of his research, Professor Lister began to document the complex histories of these specimens from their point of collection to the present day. It soon became clear that the mammalian specimens had not been adequately documented or revised in the 185 years since their initial publication. This has meant that they have not been included in most modern scientific studies. This is despite the fact that the majority of the specimens in this collection are ‘type’ specimens (the reference specimens for that species), essential for scientific study of these species.

Continue reading “Digitising Darwin’s Discoveries | Digital Collections Programme”

Crowdsourcing our data in 2017 | Digital Collections Programme

The Digital Collections Programme has completed four crowdsourcing projects in 2017. We wanted to say a massive thank-you to the 2,000+ volunteers who together have helped us to capture data from over 15,000 specimens this year. You have made a significant contribution to Science.

1) collage for blog
Crowdsourcing our data in 2017

We can digitally image individual microscope slides at a rate of up to 1000 slides per day, but we still need help with capturing the label information on each slide. Transcription is an essential part of our digitisation process.

Continue reading “Crowdsourcing our data in 2017 | Digital Collections Programme”