Category Archives: Have Science Will Travel

Museum of the Invisible


There are plenty of museums to visit in Amsterdam. You can see ancient art, contemporary art, objects of everyday life of the past, objects of everyday life in the present. There are museums of funny things, beautiful things, historical things, useful things, but also invisible things.

Yes, Amsterdam has a museum of invisible things! Micropia is a new museum displaying all sorts of microbes. I visited last weekend, and it’s awesome!


Credit: Fleur Amsen

Credit: Fleur Amsen

Credit: Fleur Amsen

Near the entrance of the museum, a large evolutionary tree is projected on the wall, introducing all the microbes and the diversity of microbes. What follows can best be described as a very interactive microbiology lesson, including peeking through microscopes, looking at all the micro organisms in your own body, and seeing fungi grow.

Credit: Fleur Amsen

Credit: Fleur Amsen

You can also watch real scientists at work. The scientists, however, but don’t have multi-coloured flashing lights, and the only zooming in you can do is by stepping closer. So, they cannot really compete with the microbes they are studying.

As with every museum, of course, there is a take home message: microbes are everywhere, there are a lot of them, we cannot live without them. And don’t forget to buy a new toothbrush regularly.

Bat Caves of Kenya – The Brain Scoop

Early in 2014, Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop and Field Museum visited bat caves in Kenya, and the video of that trip is finally online. It’s only part 1, so there will be more, but there are already lots of shots of bats and poop and dark caves.

I’m always a little on the fence about bats: I like them, but they tend to make me jump when they swoop in front of my face when I least expect it. I think I’ll stick to watching them on video, where I can see more of them than just an unexpected flapping swoosh in the night.

Ethiopia’s first science museum

Last month, Ethiopia opened its first science museum, at Addis Ababa Science and Technology University. From the news article:

Minister of Education Shiferaw Shigutie said on the opening ceremony that the museum levels up students understanding for science, and as a result contributes for the industry led economic policy of the nation to be followed in the near future.

The Addis Ababa Science and Technology University president Dr. Tarekegn Tadesse said for his part that students at all levels can make use of the museum with the center, for upgrading their knowhow in science.

Here’s a news segment about the opening. It’s mostly not in English (apart from a vox pop, and the words “science” and “museum”) but you can get some glimpses of what it looks like, although it’s mostly shots of people milling about at the opening reception, and a long shot of the entrance.

It sounds like the museum will be focusing on outreach to students, which is great! A few years ago, Ethiopia also launched a science academy.

Would love to see some better images of the museum, though!

Darwin bench

This past summer, several famous British books were scattered across London, in the shape of benches. The “Books about Town” benches were grouped in different trails, to make it easy to walk past all of them on a few walks, and still I didn’t manage to catch more than one bench in the wild before all of the benches were removed and prepared to be auctioned off.

Thankfully, the University of London kindly arranged to have all of the benches displayed for one last weekend, all together in Gordon Square Garden. Finally a chance to see them all!

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I photographed the Paddington bench and the Neverwhere bench, and fifteen others, including  some of books I didn’t know, but I managed to forget to take a snap of the one science book in the collection: Darwin’s On The Origin of Species. Here’s the official photo from the site instead:


Today, this bench, and all the others, will be auctioned off. Having seen similar projects in other cities, I suspect that some of the benches will be bought by organisations that will display them to the public again. I hope the Darwin bench gets a good home, so that you can visit it – wherever it will be next.

Map update

Remember paper maps, and how hard it was to fold them back up again, and how they would flap all over the place if it was a bit windy? All of that pales in comparison to the frustration of trying to figure out how to update our map in the new Google Maps system. That’s why this post is a week overdue, but I finally managed to add a few non-Finch-and-Pea spots:

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