Science Museum Lates

On Wednesday night I had my first experience of Science Museum Lates (with Mastercard). The theme was Space, something that I’ve had an interest in but never explored in much depth. I mean intellectually as well as physically going there obviously… For a start the fact that I found myself, cider in hand, wandering about the museum without children hogging all the cool stuff was pretty incredible. Even more odd was the image of 30 or so grown-ups (many probably with their own PhDs) sat on the floor under a rocket avidly making cardboard satellites. It was an odd but also brilliant sight. I managed to get to two talks; I went to ‘Space Oddities’ and a second talk entitled ‘Simon in Space’. The former was based around the idea of finding patterns, even faces, in images and number sequences. I was let down a bit by the focus on horoscopes and was hoping for more of a breakdown of moon landing theories and UFO/alien images (although those that were included were hilarious). The second talk however was awesome. Simon Watt presented and talked about a biologically accurate version of an invasion or extra terrestrial life. As a biologist, and stood in a group of biologists from my division, we were all loving the ideas. Add in some hilarious images of star trek alien liaisons mixed with a bit of alcohol and I could have sworn I was at a stand up show. It did result in a solid debate about the evolution of the eye, something I would love to look into more. On one hand, did the light sensitive cell come first from LUCA and then the lenses evolved after that point separately or did all of it occur at different times in different lineages? In addition we talked about he way some eyes have blind spots (like our own) and some don’t as an argument against intelligent design, something I had never thought of before. Being surrounded by people with an interest in science and understanding things is something I love, and being in a room where 95% of the audience got the Alien reference (a quote from the movie specifically) was brilliant. Once in a while it’s nice to just be openly geeky with other people who are openly geeky talking about geeky things (that aren’t necessarily work). And once a month at the Science Museum Lates is an opportunity to do just that. But what is incredible is the fact that groups of adults, scientists or not, can be just as inspired by the things you find in the science museum, and the topics that come out of it, as children. We talk about inspiring a generation in relation to teaching but why stop at just the one generation? Just because adults may seem more set in their ways shouldn’t mean we should give up hope with them and no try to broaden their horizons. You never know, they may walk away with a much more biologically accurate alien invasion playing out in their mind…

“The Science Museum’s Lates with MasterCard, is a free night for adults that takes place on the last Wednesday of the month. Lates are themed, spanning issues as far apart as sex, alcohol and climate change, but always contain science shows, a pub quiz, Punk Science comedy shows, the best silent disco in town (underneath real space rockets) and sell out speed dating. Dubbed ‘drinking and thinking’ by visitors, Lates regularly attracts over 3000 adults each night, with DJs and bars on three floors of the museum.”