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Event of the Week
Opening of the new Time Galleries at Royal Greenwich Observatory
At Londonist, we rarely find ourselves with time on our hands. Not so, the Greenwich Observatory, where making time is their business. The hilltop attraction has been drawing in temporal tourists for centuries, and forms the centrepiece of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.
But it hasn’t been without its problems. Limited access, cramped space and dated displays have stopped the observatory reaching its full potential as the must-see on every tourist‘s itinerary that it should be. Grand plans have been afoot for some time, but cash, as always, has a way of not cooperating. Now, thanks to a £3 million donation from a private benefactor (and a slightly less generous £1.20 pledge from Londonist) the plans to rejuvenate Greenwich Observatory are proceeding apace.
The first stage, the creation of four new Time galleries, is now complete, and the spaces open today. With the overall theme of timekeeping, the galleries are further subdivided into four areas: the longitude problem, Greenwich itself, the navy, and society. The exhibits on show will be largely unchanged from previously, but it sounds like much thought has gone into accessibility and education.
The next stage is to build a world-class planetarium for the observatory by spring 2007. Which is bally welcome news after the recent talk of closing the London Planetarium at Madame Tussauds.
Image reproduced under Wikimedia Commons
You presumably won’t be getting chips with your meal during Dinner@Dana tonight. Silicon chips, that is, as the subject to accompany the food is the early (pre-chip) computers that helped break the Nazi enigma code. (That gag was as laboured as the coterie of wartime logicians who slaved away over the code. Sorry, there we go again.) Bletchley Park's Dr Christopher Little presides.
Dana is at full tilt over the next week, with a further three events. Tomorrow evening, there’s magic in the air, as Prof Bruce Hood discusses why even the more rational amongst us have superstitious tendencies. Will it be well attended? We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Friday sounds like a big cosmic casserole of fun, when a series of talks, discussions and activities make up an entire evening of alien-related entertainment. The undoubted highlight being the debate between a ‘reformed extraterrestrial sceptic’, who once worked for the MoD, and a Professor of Psychology, who thinks it’s all in the mind. The final Dana event, next Tuesday, is a more serious affair, tackling questions about memory loss in the elderly. Memory: Use it, lose it - can we fix it? Does exactly what it says on the tin.
Gresham College in Holborn presents a lunchtime talk on so-called Theories of Everything tomorrow. One mathematical model that could explain all the forces of nature in common terms, reveal the origins of the Universe and toast you a crumpet to boot. John D Barrow is the man with the plan.
Finally, there’s the usual daily dose of science from the Natural History Museum. Today, the ‘feathered dinosaurs’ of Liaoning province are discussed. These fascinating creatures offer insights into the origins of flight. Did early avians evolve by controlled plummet or inspired leap? From the distant past to the here and now on Friday, when members of the public can discuss the latest science headlines with a special panel. Back to Chinese reptiles on Saturday and Monday, when the giant salamanders take centre stage. Finally, on Tuesday, comes what must be the world’s biggest irony. Ethiopia, notorious for its devastating droughts in recent decades, turns out to be the birth place of a brand new ocean. Would you credit it?
When and Where?
New Time Galleries, open from today, Royal Greenwich Observatory, FREE
Dinner@Dana, Tonight 6.30, Dana Centre, £13
The Origins of Magical Beliefs, Thursday 7.00, Dana Centre, FREE
Theories of everything, Thursday 1.00, Gresham College, FREE
An Extraterrestrial Night Out, Friday 6.30, Dana Centre, FREE
Memory: Use It, Lose It - Can We Fix It?, Tuesday 7.00, Dana Centre, FREE
All Natural History Museum events are free and take place at 2.30 on the days mentioned, with occasional performances at 12.00.