Science Museum to open maverick exhibition devoted to Professor James Lovelock

By Culture24 Reporter | 24 February 2014

Professor James Lovelock says the exhibition devoted to him at the Science Museum should inspire lone inventors

A photo of a man standing on a hill working with scientific equipment
James Lovelock and his daughter Christine collecting air samples in Adrigole, South West Ireland (1970)© Science Museum
In 1967, measuring the Atlantic air on the west coast of Ireland, James Lovelock used his tiny electron capture detector to pick out CFCs. The invention is one of several exhibits from the celebrated scientist’s life going on show in the Science Museum’s archive from his 70-year career, bought in 2012 and adding up to a diverse picture of the 94-year-old arguably best known for his Gaia hypothesis on the earth’s ability to self-regulate.

A photo of a handwritten diagram showing an environmental system
A diagram of Gaia and feedback loop used by Professor Lovelock during lectures© Science Museum
Unlocking Lovelock: Scientist, Inventor, Maverick will show the young Lovelock’s school reports – a “reluctant pupil” with a “passion for the natural world” who would imagine scientific heroes. The watchmaker’s lathe he built many of his inventions with and the home-made gas chromatography he took to the Antarctic also feature.

Curators hope the display will follow the inspirational tone of its sections devoted to scientists such as Dorothy Hodgkin and James Watt. Professor Lovelock has expressed his satisfaction with the show of free-spiritedness.

“I hope it will show the next generation how it is possible to do scientific research as a lone inventor and scientist,” he said.

“I attribute the science I have done to the inspiration I received from visits to the museum from the age of 7 onwards.”

The exhibition will be part of the museum’s Climate Changing programme running alongside its impressive new Atmosphere gallery.

  • Exhibition opens April 9 2014.

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