7 min read

Cryonics to Cloud Naming: Stories from the Science Museum Stores

The Science Museum has been mining its collection for a video series called Stories from the Stores – which goes behind the scenes with its curators

As you might expect it’s a pretty eclectic trawl that includes a clock which tells time through smell, a container for frozen human heads, how the ozone layer was discovered, a fish-based pregnancy test and the teenage notebook of an 18th century precision engineer. Here’s three of our favourites:

How to live forever

In the presence of the Dewar Flask, which is a device used for storing heads or brains in liquid nitrogen for cryogenic neuro-suspension, presenter Alex Lathbridge asks, “is there a head in there?” “Thankfully there isn’t because that would cause all sorts of headaches,” replies curator Katie Dabin. Who said curators don’t have a sense of humour?

Naming clouds

“Clouds have long been a problem for scientists because they’re so transient,” says curator Alex Rose, “by the time you’ve named one it’s kind of changed into something else.” Thanks to nineteenth century amateur meteorologist Luke Howard we can now use nice poetic sounding words like cirrus, which is Latin for ‘curl of hair’, for these transient celestial masses.

The Chinese incense clock

“It’s a clock that uses incense and fire to tell the time” says curator Donata Miller. “So what your telling me is I could just know it’s 11:15 because the room smells like roses?” asks Lathbridge. “Basically, yes,” says Miller.

Catch the whole series on the Science Museum YouTube channel

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