Minerva Scientifica – Good Vibrations


Jillian and Girl who told joke - Copy
Dr. Gillian Sales, Curator of Museum of Life Sciences, takes questions from pupils of Pakeman Primary School, Islington

Dr.Gillian Sales was creating a lot of good vibrations today at Museum of Life Sciences with the help of some very well prepared and enthusiastic pupils from Pakeman Primary School, Islington. Together they explored the world of animal sounds in some unusual ways: – watching salt jumping on a vibrating membrane, popping the lids of jars, and realising that our own vocal folds vibrate almost like violin strings.

Two girls Experiment - Copy
Tuning forks turn out to be useful for getting salt to dance on this home made drum




But I for one was rather put out to discover that while I have one larynx, birds have two, known collectively as the Syrinx. If I had that, I could sing a lot faster, which in some of the extreme contemporary music I perform would be very handy! However, having heard the sound the Queen Bee makes just before she is ready to go out and kill any rivals, I might just practice that one for now … you never know when it might be needed!

Our school group though were not phased by anything they heard today – indeed they seemed right at home in a University setting – at times astonishing the resident experts with their intuitive questions, breadth of knowledge, and scientific jokes…..  Professor Brian Sutton was keen to share one he learnt from one of the young learners while discussing the components of DNA: –

Why can’t you trust atoms?

Because they make up everything……!


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