Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2018

If you've ever gazed up at the Milky Way and wondered how much it weighs, pondered how to put a shark to sleep or stared at a slug and its slime wondering what you might use it for, you should go along to the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition in London.

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

 Entrance to the exhibition is free and there are rooms filled with fascinating displays, hands on fun activities and enthusiastic scientists who are all very keen to explain their projects.

We got a sneak peek at the exhibition which runs until Sunday July 8 and had fun shaking sharks, checking fake organs for radioactive stones and peeling off single layers of atoms from a crystalline sample using sticky tape.

Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

The shark thing - don't panic. My shark was a cuddly replica and the shaking was to replicate him swimming so I could see how conservation scientists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) can learn about their lives even in remote places, using a tracker device fitted. Apparently they fit the trackers after flipping the sharks over onto their back which basically sends them into a deep sleep.

Although I had attended the event more for my science mad daughter than for my own edification I soon found myself drawn in, fascinated especially how what seems like pure science projects can impact our daily lives.

Take the smart toilet for instance. Nanotechnology scientists are working on pioneering application in biosensing and healthcare. By measuring traces of molecules with great accuracy in very small quantities in urine it is possible to carry out easy, real time health monitoring or drug testing .

The technology could be used in prisons, sports, schools and police stations to monitor illegal drug use, or in GP surgeries, the home or hospitals to monitor for high sugar, allergens or disease.

I was fascinated by the slug guy - who knew the humble slug could be so useful. Apparently different species have slime with different properties which can be replicated and used in a variety of applications.

Slug Slime demo Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

Slug-inspired biocompatible medical adhesive could replace stitches and even works on internal "wet" wounds. Other slug's slime can be deodorant, lubricant or even contain a unique signature as clear to other slugs as us signing our name in ink.

Space fanatics are well catered for with details of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and a wonderful display all about the James Webb space telescope which will (hopefully) be blasted 1.5 million kilometres into space in 2020. It will travel beyond Earth's orbit to become the largest and most advanced observatory ever launched.

We loved learning more about the Gaia satellite which is currently more than a million kilometres above us in space creating the most precise 3D map of one billion stars in our galaxy. Already scientists have been able to gather new information about the Milky Way and uncover the dark secrets of the universe, including how much the Milky Way might weigh!

Gaia Satellite model Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
We browsed loads more fascinating displays learning about coding, random numbers, designer malaria vaccines, cutting edge prosthetics, radioactivity and more.

working with atoms Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

The exhibition is suitable for those with only a distant memory of science classes and for those who are passionate about the very latest scientific developments.

We saw groups of schoolchildren having a wonderful time, partly due to the approachability of the scientists manning the exhibits and the imaginative hands-on activities available bringing even the most complicated science down to a more understandable level for those like me who don't know their protons from their proteins.

coding game, Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

This is a rare (and free!) chance to meet some of our countries brightest minds who are passionate about their projects so if you are any where near London try and get in to this amazing exhibition. There are a number of special events and workshops throughout the week to bring science alive even more. Check the website for details of what's on.

If you are not able to get there make the most of the online exhibition, Summer Science Exhibition Extra  to meet the scientists and stories behind some of the leading science research happening right now in the UK.

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