12.26.2006

Ingenius!

Amazing nerd website of the week, or maybe the month: Ingenius, a new site from the UK’s National Museums of Science and Industry (NMSI) that “brings together images and viewpoints to create insights into science and culture.” Ok, sounds cheesy, but I promise it’s, well, ingenius. NMSI puts together a huge collection of well researched—and well-written—articles (when’s the last time you read about Thalidomide? or how a science museum builds its collection?); forums to discuss scientific and cultural ideas (“Should the state pay to make ugly people beautiful?” or “Has technology given us a home life filled with opportunities?"); and best of all, 30,000 science-related images. I know I’ll be spending many future procrastinating hours at this site…here are a few of the cool photos I’ve found so far.


"Jedi" Helmet
Used by Ian Young at the Hammersmith Hospital as an experimental device to get the best possible pictures of a child's brain. The helmets are named after and resemble those used for training by apprentice Jedi knights in the 'Star Wars' films; this name was chosen to encourage children to put them on. The coils on the helmet are 'aerials' for picking up MRI signals. MRI builds up pictures from the magnetic behaviour of water molecules inside the body. It is used to diagnose diseases and injuries affecting the brain, nerves, bones, muscles and internal organs, especially the liver.

First Brain Chemicals
Test tubes with original hand-written labels containing the firstchemicals isolated from the human brain, prepared by John Louis William Thudichum (1829-1901) at St Thomas's Hospital, London, between 1865 and 1871. They are: choline platinochloride; lecithin cadmium chloride; phrenosine; kerasine. These test tubes are icons of the earliest history of biochemistry. J L W Thudichum made a significant contribution to neurochemistry and the Biochemical Society awards a Thudichum Medal to those who have made outstanding contributions to neurochemistry and related subjects.

The Taj Mahal of Astronomical Instruments
This is one of a series of models (scale 1:36) made between 1884-6, showing the astronomical instruments of the Jaipur Observatory in India. Built of masonry, the Jaipur instruments were used to accurately measure the position of the Sun, stars, moon and planets. They did not have telescopes but used naked eye sights and massive, but precise construction. Known as Narivalaya ('Double Equinoctial Dial'), it was built and designed under the supervision of Maharajah Jai Singh II (1686-1743). Finding European, Islamic and Hindu astronomical tables inaccurate, Singh decided to make his own observations to improve matters. As ruler of Rajasthan he built several observatories, starting in 1724 with one near Delhi.

All images credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Bored? Browse the collection for yourself!

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