First Review for Built on Bones!

So, I spent this week doing a lot of things. One of my favorites was freaking about my photoshopped proximity to lifetime hero author Neil ...

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Science Uncovered! Adventures in Outreach, aka #SU2012

Ok, so I might have taken some time to catch my breath after the massive annual outreach event that is Science Uncovered, the Natural History Museum London's contribution to the EU-wide Researcher's Night event. About 6,000 people wandered around the museum on a Friday night, enjoying (I think that's the word I want) the bars, virtual autopsy tables, live animals, satellite links to antarctica, and our researchers dragged up from their basements and behind-the-scenes labs to talk Science (and redeem our free drink tokens).

The Human Origins Group decided to go pretty big -- we had several volunteers as well as the usual suspects manning the tables. There was a lot of discussion about human evolution by C. Stringer, M. Skinner, L. Buck and L. Humphrey. Heck, I even acted out Taung child being carried off by an eagle a few times (with sound effects, natch). L. Humphrey and L. Buck here demonstrate human evolution for the crowd...

But it wasn't all fossils... there was DIY cave art (check my favorite in the picture below, very appropriately themed for the museum I think!). This activity was set up by G. Delbarre and R. Kruszynski and proved really popular.  The more accurate illustrations are courtesy of A. Turner.

We also had plenty of artefacts from the collections out for people to see, with S. Bello, M. Lewis, S. Parfitt, R. Dinnis, R. Kruzynski, and T. Compton showing off evidence of early Britons' living habits (...and fondness for cannibalism and skull cups!).

And C. Stringer was man enough to step up and submit his measurements to I. de Groote's chart of ape and hominid limb proportions, aided here by C. Coleman though A. Freyne was also lending an expert hand. Actually, I did my measurements too, but I came out a bit too close to chimpanzee for my liking... short limbs. Meh.

And of course, I had to subject the general public to my own particular brand of outreach. I built an augmented reality app (using ARToolkit) which allowed passer-by to use three different paddles, each representing a different member of early Homo. When you hold up the paddle in front of the screen, a charming disembodied skull of the relevant species appears on a live video feed. Several individuals showed a remarkable ability to maneuver the Neanderthal skull on to the face of their companions... something to be said for increased virtual manipulation skills in a younger generation I guess :)

And as is traditional, here's a little showreel of the app! A more in depth discussion of the AR is available in a supplementary post.

su2012 ar 1 from Brenna Hassett on Vimeo.

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Trivia (personal)

archaeologist. dental anthropologist. yes, that's a real thing. Author of Built on Bones, available in February 2017 (UK), May 2017 (USA) from Bloomsbury.



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