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Event of the Week
Isambard Kingdom Brunel: fame and fate, Science Museum
It took 1000 men, four years, and 19 000 tons of steel. And that was just to reinforce his silly hat. But Izzy Brunel’s ocean liner, the Great Eastern, was a true wonder of the world in its day. Not only was she the biggest ship in the world, she also marked the first use of a screw propeller and a double hull on a major vessel.
On the 200th anniversary of Brunel’s birth, the Science Museum has a new exhibition celebrating the Great Eastern. The huge steamship, built in Millwall, was to be Brunel’s final project before his death.
Fortunately for us, the age of photography had arrived in time to capture this last great work. The images of Robert Howlett, including his famous shot of Brunel, to the right, form the centrepiece of the new exhibition. Surprisingly, 3-D images were also popular at the time (they‘ve been around for 150 years, yet we still can‘t make holodecks like on Star Trek. Bah). The exhibition shows off some early stero images of the Eastern, which wowed the Victorian public.
We wonder what people of Brunel’s era might have made of the title of the Dana Centre’s Tuesday offering. ‘Queer Speed Dating’ would probably have referred to unusual feats of velocity in the Great Eastern‘s log. All very gay. In fact, this is the natural progression of the Dana’s popular speed dating evenings, which have been running for some time now. The evening goes a little beyond the Ronseal promise and mixes in a bit of theory, offering insights into the ‘subtle science of body language and the blatant biology of aphrodisiacs at a night of speed dating with a difference’.
Sticking with ideas of gender identity, the Dana will tonight be looking at what gender really means. To those Victorians, and still to many people today, the differences between male and female might seem as clear as black and white. But, as with everything, there are many shades of grey in between. Dana investigates.
One other event at the Dana Centre this week looks at the ’tricks of the psych trade’ (do people trade in psych? Where can we buy some?) ‘Submit yourself to commonly used psychological empathy tests, discuss an exhibition of paintings by an artist with Asperger's syndrome and participate in an interactive sound installation drawn from brain scanning procedures.’
Finally, the Zoological Society of London hold one of their infrequent evenings on Tuesday. They’ll be addressing the question of extinctions. How many species have we been losing over the past few centuries, can we learn from past
extinctions to help prevent new ones, and how long before Richard Attenborough genetics back the more vicious critters from yester-era? At least two of those questions will be discussed on Tuesday.
When and Where?
Isambard Kingdom Brunel: fame and fate, Till November, Science Museum, FREE
Gender: Who's in the box?, 7pm, Tonight, Dana Centre, FREE
Tricks of the Psych Trade, 7pm, Thursday, Dana Centre, FREE
Queer Speed Dating, 7.30, Tuesday, Dana Centre, FREE
Historical Extinctions: Lessons for the Future? 5.30, Tuesday, London Zoo, FREE