The Culture24/7: Science and Nature sparklers for May 2012

By Ben Miller | 02 May 2012
A photo of a set of orange balls inside a darkened sphere illuminated by a neon blue light
Giants of the Infinitesimal illuminates Magna Science Adventure Centre this month© Magna
A load of junk in Newcastle, a saunter through the woods out west and all things honeycombed, aquatic and sporting in between for this month's Science and Nature highlights. Follow the links to find out more about each venue...

Under the Sea, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield


Edward Bawden wallpaper depictions of aquatic myths, contemporary glass based on 19th century biology, the jaws of a Great White Shark and whale teeth all feature in a show with an aesthetic and environmental allure, aimed at highlighting the beauty and fragility of the oceans within a waterfall of ancient and modern art, design and craft.

The UK Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef also provides a chance to add to a huge knitted coral, grown by thousands of connoisseurs under the guidance of the Crafts Council.

Giants of the Infinitesimal, Magna Science Adventure Centre,

A sculpture depicting the wonderfully-titled honeycomb lattice of graphene – the super-strong material which won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for a group of University of Manchester scientists – is just one of the highlights in this “visualisation of the invisible” between artists and academics.

Essentially, the interactive exhibits simulate amazing, pioneering experiments carried out with nanoparticles in the labs. But the scale is a hundred million times larger, allowing everyone to mess around and see how it’s done for themselves.

Westonbirt Silk Wood Spring Fair, National Arboretum, Westonbirt, May 5-7

Gloucestershire’s cathedral of trees welcomes coppicing champions for three days of forestry skill, demonstrating how their wood-shaving techniques help wildlife and allow plants and animals to thrive.

Clog making, saw milling and wooden flower making are among the craftier pursuits on show, with nifty garden accessories, exhibitions from woodland experts and more all included in the cost of admission to one of our most picturesque rural havens.

In the Zone, various venues, from May 9

Five interactive zones consider the body under sporting exertion in this Wellcome Trust-driven touring carousel for the Olympics, ranging from veins and muscles to response time tests, starting gun speeds and the truth about how hard you can fall.

Designed and developed by the At-Bristol Science Centre, it also allows players to share data, images and video online. The tour begins at the Olympic Park on May 9, pops in to Belfast’s Balmoral Agricultural Show from May 16-18, and then stops off across the UK until August 19.

Drowning World, Somerset House, London, from May 10

Tripod, camera and all, photographer and filmmaker Gideon Mendel sometimes found himself waist-high in floodwaters for this brave series of portraits of victims from the major recent floods in Thailand, Australia, Pakistan, Haiti, India and the UK.

A metaphorical response to the threat of climate change, his prints and double-bill of video installations make an uncomfortable truth more real – as do the faces of those caught up in its most immediate consequences.

Age of the Dinosaur,
Ulster Museum, Belfast, from May 18

“Everyone loves dinosaurs, don’t they?” hypothesises Jan English, part of the Natural History Museum team who conceived this show.

The theory is probably true. And with 60 unique specimens and seven full-scale animatronic dinosaurs, Northern Ireland’s largest and most inventive dino show ever is a fine way to prove it.

Curiosity Zone; Wasted: The Trouble With Rubbish, Life Science Centre, Newcastle, from May 26

Life’s new Curiosity Zone is “100% hands-on” and designed to “bring out your inner scientist”, so get stuck in by making music, chemical reactions, machines and more.

Over at the new Wasted exhibition, a landfill game and conundrums on how to make energy from waste feature in a display making the most of pure rubbish.
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