The Culture24/7: Machines and festivals in our February 2013 Science and Nature picks

By Ben Miller | 04 February 2013

If you're after odd specimens, Science and Nature ticks bountiful boxes this month. Giant elks and miniscule slide collections prove size doesn't always matter...

A close up photo of an animated dodo with a large beak and brown, scaley skin
Dodos descend on the Natural History Museum© Natural History Museum
Brighton Science Festival, various venues, Brighton, from February 6

With the noble cause of building bridges between science and the people, Brighton’s annual science ding-dong enters its eighth year with a typically energetic mix of talks, demonstrations, performances and oddity odysseys. Highlights include a trip to the bad side with Ben Goldacre, Zombie Science and the central White Heat Sunday.

Extinction: Not the end of the World?, Natural History Museum, London, from February 8

Passenger pigeons were eaten out of the sky, the Irish elk left behind a 12-foot head and antlers, and the elephant bird egg is a gigantic version of your average shell. Charting the demise of long-lost species and the current predicament of some of today’s at-risk creatures, the science-stuffed new NHM show features 80 real specimens.

Beastly Machines, Mansfield Museum, Mansfield, from February 9

A giant ant atop a curvaceous Penny Farthing and a grinning, flapping pig within a golden wheel are two of the windmills of Johnny White’s mind. The Derbyshire artist presents eight mechanical sculptures here, channelling current affairs and puns into his portrayals of animals and mythical creatures.

Space Fiction, National Space Centre, Leicester, February 9-24

Steampunk shows, space opera, comic books and readings all feature in more than a dozen sci-fi inspired events at the Space Centre. Check the programme online for the latest updates.

We Made it - Nuts, Bolts, Gadgets and Gizmos, Thinktank, Birmingham, opens February 16

Materials, manufacturing and reducing waste are the themes for Birmingham’s new £900,000 gallery of 20 interactive exhibits. Iron and steel-making, precious metals and gemstones, life-changing gadgets and the glass and aluminium-heavy Tins and Things are the four areas.

Mechanicals, Centre for Life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from February 16

An interactive exhibition featuring handcrafted, entertaining automata powered by cams, cranks, drives, gears, levers, linkages, ratchets and other forms of whirring and general creakery. An excellent bet for half-termers in the north-east.

Micrarium, Grant Museum of Zoology, London

“Have you noticed how many museums fill their displays with big animals?” ask the Grant. They have a point. Using a converted old storeroom, they spent January making a back-lit cave full of some of the tiniest specimens in the collection on wall-to-wall microscope slides. An experiment worth investigating.
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