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Five weird and fascinating things every Londoner needs to see at... the Science Museum

Luke Abrahams

It's not OTT to say that London is the undisputed home of crazy quirky and extraordinary shizzle. From colossal steam engines to billion-year-old pieces of Moon, the Science Museum is a magnet for the most peculiar pieces of medical, astrological and mechanical history. With a fabulous 300,000+ strong collection to uncover, grab your lab coat, reignite your inner Sheldon and explore the museum's dynamite floors dedicated to supreme weirdness and scientific marvels. Here are six exceptionally strange curios you can't miss on your next visit.  

1. The MRI 'Jedi Helmet'

Science Museum, London

This so-called 'Jedi Helmet' was used in an early cryogenic magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI scanner to us non-medical folk). Those weird-looking coils are aerials which basically enhance all the cool images the docs see when they are scanning soft tissues like our brains. MRI machines have helped scientists understand how the brain reacts to certain stimuli giving them a better understanding of the ways in which our noggins actually work physically. 

Where to see it: You'll see this crazy hat inside the 'Journeys Through Medicine' gallery, second floor. 

2. The jumper made from a cloned sheep

Science Museum, London

This adorable fleece was made from the wool of Dolly the Sheep, the first ever animal to be cloned from an adult cell and probably the first ever sheep to be named after Dolly Parton (probably). Back in 1997, the Cystic Fibrosis trust launched a one-off competition called 'Do a Design for Dolly,' which was won by 12-year-old Holly Wharton with the lovely entry above. After the winner was announced, the design was shipped off to professor Steve Melia who made the jumper at the School of Textiles at Leeds University. Sheep normally live until they're 11 or 12 but unfortunately our dear Dolly had to be put down when she was just six years old after being diagnosed with progressive lung disease. 

Where to see it: Go see what remains of Dolly in the 'Making the Modern World' gallery, ground floor.  

3. The fake Merman

Science Museum, London

Ariel's family is looking a little rough these days. This horrendous looking fellow is a composite model of a merman. It's basically a representation of the legendary beast known as the chimera and is made from layers of fish skin, bone and scales covered in a thin veil of paper. As if that's not weird or gross enough, it also has animal fur, teeth, claws and other kinds of tissue sewn into it to make it look more authentic. This fine example is either Dutch or Javanese in origin and was highly sought after in Britain by gentlemen who wanted to add these trivial ogres to their 'cabinet of curiosities'. 

Where to find it: Ogle it in the 'Journeys through Medicine' gallery, second floor. 

4. A piece of the Moon

Luke Abrahams

This piece of moon rock was cut from the 'Great Scott' rock that Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott picked up from the Moon's surface in August 1971. What's so cool about it is that the rock was part on an ancient lava flow, which was formed billions of years ago before single-celled life had even begun on Earth. Weighing just 83 grams, this particular moon rock is kept in a special nitrogen-filled glass container, so that it NEVER comes into contact with the Earth's atmosphere. 

Where to see it: See this glittering piece of Moon in the 'Exploring Space' gallery, ground floor. 

5. The stainless steel dress

Science Museum, London

Look up for this one. This insane wedding dress is the brainchild of British fashion designer Jeff Banks. It's made from galvanised steel wire and chicken wire and was unveiled as part of a production of 'The Clothes Show' in Warrington in 1995. Banks wanted to make a statement piece (he sure as hell did with this one) for the show based on its location. High-quality steel is a key industry up in Lancashire, particularly in Warrington where the show took place. 

Where to see it: See it on display in the 'Challenge of Materials' gallery, first floor. 

Check out ten weird and fascinating things every Londoner needs to see at... the Natural History Museum.


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