Follow this tour to discover the objects telling some of the greatest stories in chemistry.
Galleries you will visit: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries, Making the Modern World, Atmosphere, Mathematics: The Winton Gallery
Stop 1: Louis Pasteur’s compound microscope
Make your way to Level 1 where you will find Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries. Here, you will find Louis Pasteur’s compound microscope.
Chemist and microbiologist, Louis Pasteur, used microscopes like this during his experiments on spontaneous generation – the theory that living creatures could arise from nonliving matter and that such processes were commonplace and regular.
By 1864, Pasteur disproved this theory by experimenting with fermentation. He placed yeast water in a swan-necked flask that only allowed air to enter. The water remained clear. Only when the flask was open to dust and micro-organisms did fermentation occur.
Stop 2: Crystal model of magnesium ammonium phosphate
Also found in Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries is this crystal model of magnesium ammonium phosphate (Mg NH4 PO4 6H2O).
This model is from a collection relating to the X-ray crystallography research associated with Dame Kathleen Lonsdale’s work in investigating the cause of kidney stones.
Stop 2: Density map of a myoglobin molecule
Make you way up to Level 2 and enter the Mathematics: The Winton Gallery. Here, you’ll find the electron density map of a myoglobin molecule.
Myoglobin (symbol Mb or MB) is an iron- and oxygen-binding protein found in muscle tissue of vertebrates (animals with a spinal cord) in general and in almost all mammals. It was the first protein to have its three-dimensional structure revealed by X-ray crystallography.
Stop 3: Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of Elements
Using Lift D, head back down to Level 0. Once you are out of the lift, turn left and you will see our display of Mendeleev’s periodic table.
Described as one of the most significant achievements in science, the periodic table is a unique tool which captures the underlying core of chemistry. They are named as such because they order elements in such a way that their chemical properties repeat periodically. after regular intervals.
Scientists use the periodic table to predict the appearance and properties of matter on the Earth and in the rest of the Universe.
Stop 4: Oscillation-rotation x-ray diffraction camera
Make your way through to Making the Modern World and look out for the Oscillation-rotation x-ray diffraction camera used by physicist Professor John Desmond Bernal.
Bernal used this X-ray diffraction camera at the Royal Institution in London.
When X-rays are passed through crystals they scatter to create a pattern that can be used to determine the structures of molecules.
Known today as X-ray crystallography, it was a crucial technique used to understand the structure of penicillin, DNA and insulin. Bernal was also interested in the social function of science and wrote widely on the history of science.
Stop 5: Antarctic ice core
Use Lift F to head up to the Atmosphere, where you can go back in time to discover key moments in the Earth’s climate history.
Here you can find a sample of an Antarctic ice core – one of the oldest ice cores to date. Ice cores can tell us about the climate and atmosphere of the Earth’s past. Air bubbles trapped in the ice are used to measure the volume of carbon, methane and other gases present in the atmosphere when the ice froze.
As of April 2019 an area of Antarctica, known as Little Dome C, has been spotted where the ice is thick enough to reveal 1.5 million years of climatic history—almost twice as much information we currently have.
Extend your tour by visiting Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery.
Revealing the beauty of the science and maths that shape our everyday lives, this unmissable experience will ignite your curiosity, fuel your imagination and inspire you to see the world around you in new and exciting ways.
Where to eat:
On Level 0 you will find the Energy Cafe if you fancy treating yourself to lunch, or with one of our homemade cakes and an award-winning coffee.
The Science Museum has now reopened. Head to our website to read the latest information and to pre-book your free tickets.