Video Special: Leonardo da Vinci anatomical drawings come to London

Source Wiki: Self-Portrait

Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the greatest polymath of all time; renowned for his art, science and invention. The Mona Lisa, of course, is perhaps the world’s most famous painting, and there can be few who have not seen his Vitruvian Man, the sketch of a man with arms and legs outstretched. His inventions (although few were published and the majority made little or no contribution to future technology), include a hang glider and a machine rather like a helicopter.

But for all his fame, there is one area which has perhaps been sightly overlooked until now. Leonardo was an accomplished anatomical artist, fascinated by the study of the human body and eventually filling over 200 pages of his notebook with drawings of the human skeleton, muscles and other features. Much of his work was created from dissecting corpses at various Italian hospitals and as well as pioneering work in the as-yet undefined field of biomechanics, he produced one of the first sketches of a foetus in utero as well as hundreds of studies of animal anatomy which he compared with his human work.f his discoveries about the human were years ahead of their time, why is his work not better known? The simple answer is that the vast majority was unpublished for centuries and it is only with hindsight that we can see what  a great body of work he has produced.

This is all relevant now as his work is about to go on display in London! As part of the Royal Collection, these drawings were kept in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. However, they have now been moved to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace in preparation for Friday, where they will be open to the public until September. The Nature Video team were lucky enough to secure an invite to view the collection at Windsor Castle and have produced a video with senior curator of the collection, Martin Clayton, talking us through some of the most important pieces.

Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist is open to the public at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace from Friday, 4 May 2012 to Sunday, 7 October 2012

Science Events in London: 30 April – 6 May

Tuesday

The Grant Museum has a fun event as part of its Silly Season tonight: Call my Bluffalo. Thagomizers, trilobites and more feature in this zoological version of the panel game where you must decide which words the presenting scientists have invented. 6:30pm at the Grant Museum (UCL). Free and no need to book.

After the brilliant Science Showoff 7, they are back on 1st May 2012 at the Wilmington Arms with Science Showoff 8! As usual, a host of wonderful performers will dazzle you in nine minutes with talks, demos and general randomness, with the common theme of SCIENCE. More details here.

Wednesday

Reputation is the topic at the Royal Institution tonight: everyone cares about it, everyone pays attention to it and we spend a remarkable amount of time discussing it. But scientists are doing it too and Dr John Whitford will take us on a tour of science of reputation, from evolutionary biology to online activism. 7-8:30pm, £10; book now. Read more

Science Events in London: 23 – 29 April

Monday

Cafe Scientifique at the Royal Society looks at steganography tonight: for the non-spies amongst you, that is the art of concealing messages so as to be visible only to sender and recipient. The host is Dr Andrew Ker, a computer scientist based at University of Oxford whose research focuses on hiding information within digital media and detecting when there is hidden material. 6:30pm start; free and no need to book.

Tuesday

X-Men! The British Library holds “Genetic Fictions: Genes and Genres”, looking at how genetics is represented in fiction with a host of speakers including authors and scientists from the ESRC Genomics Network. 6:30pm start; tickets £7.50, book now.

Wednesday

Lates at the Science Museum for the last Wednesday of the month: the theme is the Science of Mental Health, including a look at the impact of the war in Afghanistan on mental health, and specials include a teacher zone as well as regular activities. 6:45 – 10pm; entry is free but queues are long, so get here early or late.

Thursday

More regenerative medicine at the Clifford Patterson Lecture at the Royal Society tonight, with Professor Molly Stevens talking about progress in her research using directed stem cell differentiation for musculoskeletal engineering. Professor Stevens is currently at UCL and in case you needed persuading to hear her, is the winner of a host of awards including the 2012 EU40 Award for top materials scientist in Europe. 6:30pm; free and no need to book.

Friday

Probability does not exist. Probably. That is the rather brilliant tagline for the Royal Institution’s Friday evening lecture (open to members and guests) looking at the concept of probability and modern applications including catching doping athletes, predicting volcanic eruptions, judging the impact of new technologies, and of course gambling. 8pm; see website for tickets and dress code.

The Weekend

The Institute of Psychiatry hosts its first ever Kids Cafe Scientifique: a two hour drop in event called “What are your brains made of?” where children (aged 3 to 12 years old) will be able to visualise brain cells under the microscope, talk to scientists about the different parts of their brain, and draw and decorate the many types of cells found in the brain. 10:30 to 12:30 at the IoP near Denmark Hill. I believe it’s free, but limited places, so you must email to book.


You can follow the Nature Network London Google calendar of events in London at http://blogs.nature.com/london/2011/05/17/scientific-events-calendar. Updated daily.

————————————————————————–

As well as our regularly maintained calendar, you can find lots of other suggestions of science-y events in London. We have compiled a list of some other places to look: we will continue adding to this list, and please do, as always, send us additions for it:

Collections and calendars

Londonist recommendations: All things scientific, technical and geeky

Ian Visits: A calendar of all types of events in London, including science and engineering, with added editorial

Museums, societies etc:

Wellcome Collection: Regular events and exhibitions of a medical flavour at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road

Royal Institution: Miscellaneous science and policy events

Royal Society: Science, policy and conferences

ZSL: Zoological Society of London; occasional events on conservation and zoology

Hunterian Museum: Part of the Royal College of Surgeons, with a treasure trove of specimens and surgical paraphenalia

University calendars (usually featuring dozens of events per week)

UCL

Imperial

LSE

 

Brain Reconstruction: the next biomedical breakthrough, or a biological impossibility?

Experimental stem cell research was the topic at a new venue for Nature London tonight: Gresham College on High Holborn. Gresham College is an independent Institution founded in 1597 and although it takes no students, has 8 professors and a large group of visiting professors all of whom give public lectures. In total the college organises about 140 public lectures a year on subjects from Art and Literature to Science, with an intriguing category of “Unusual”.

Tonight’s lecture was organised as part of a series running in collaboration with the Institute of Psychiatry and featured guest speaker Professor Jack Price, Professor of Developmental Neurobiology and Head of the Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. As well as his academic commitments, Professor Price is also Consultant and Director of Cell Biology for ReNeuron Ltd, a Biotech company developing stem cells for therapeutic and drug discovery research and it was the ongoing research in therapeutics that formed the basis of tonight’s talk.

Interestingly, he began the talk with a question: with all the work that’s being done on brain reconstruction – that is, repairing brain damage from a variety of causes -is the goal even possible? Can we really rebuild brains which are physically missing bits? Or is it not just out of our current level of understanding, but actually biologically impossible?

To begin to answer the question, we need to know what damage actually consists of. Professor Price listed the main causes of brain damage, which includes strokes, traumatic brain injury and the neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Batten’s Disease. Professor Price’s work focuses on stroke victims, and with the statistics he presented that strokes are the third biggest cause of death in the UK and US (following heart disease and cancer) and the lead cause of severe disability, it isn’t hard to see why.

With regards therapy, there are two main approaches to brain reconstruction at the moment, endogenous neurogenesis, which involves stimulate the stem cells naturally found in the brain to make new brain cells at the site of the damage, and stem cell transplantation, moving stem cells from elsewhere (generally the bone marrow) to the site of the damage. Professor Price reported on the findings of the research which led to the world’s first human trials two years ago in Glasgow, in which neural stem cells were injected into the brain of an adult male who had suffered a severe stroke. For the details of the work, see Professor Price’s website, but the point he was trying to make was broader than the research itself. In a nutshell, the brains studied did show very significant improvement. BUT – and this is the crucial part – not for the reason they thought. What they had predicted would happen with the stem cells wasn’t happening at all – it was causing a completely unexpected side effect which was in fact regenerating the structural tissues. And this story neatly illustrated Professor Price’s point: science is like that. You make progress and you just keep on going, without really knowing where it may lead. Is brain reconstruction really possible? Perhaps. Is it anywhere near the magic therapy some reports on early results made it seem? No.

Professor Price’s lecture, as all the Gresham College lectures, was recorded and will be available on the website shortly. The events calendar is also well worth checking out: in the next few weeks, lectures are coming up on malaria, big telescopes and the psychological health of the UK’s armed forces.

Gresham College is based at Barnard’s Inn Hall, Holborn, London, EC1N 2HH. Lectures are free and open to all.

Science Events in London: 16 – 22 April

Monday

Monthly bookclub at the RI time and this month might be a good one to go along to if you’ve only just seen this and haven’t read the book yet – this month’s choice is, Litmus: Short Stories from Modern Science. 7pm start; free and no need to book.

Tuesday

A double dose of astronomy tonight, with two slightly different themes. First up, Imperial College looks at The impact of sex in space, suggesting we look beyond telescopes and consider all five of our senses. A free lecture from the astrophysics group, it starts at 6:30 and is free, but book in advance.

Meanwhile, the Royal Society takes a slightly broader look with Milestones in the History of Astronomy. This one promises to be a more intimate event, done workshop style with places limited to 15 as Rupert Baker, Library Manager at the Royal Society, leads a tour through books. 6:30pm; register now.

Back on this planet, Bright Club is back with Evil Genius. You know the drill: researchers become stand up comedians for the night. 7:30 start; tickets £5 and available now.

Thursday

The brain series continues at the Wellcome Collection with Tony Blair’s former advisor Matthew Taylor talking about how we can use advances in neuroscience to improve our understanding of human society. 7pm start; currently fully booked but there may be tickets on the day which you can register for the waiting list for 90 mins before the event starts.

Friday

The Friday lunchtime lectures at the Royal Society continue with a look at Nevil Maskelyne, 5th Astronomer Royal and Fellow of the Royal Society, and today best known as the villain of Dava Sobel’s Longitude. Was he a villain or has this overshadowed his good work? 1pm to find out; free, no need to book.

The Weekend

Hampstead Observatory is still running its winter schedule of observing, open Friday and Saturday night 8-10pm for star gazing and Sunday 11-1pm for sun gazing. Free and no need to book, but all weather dependent, so check first.

You can follow the Nature Network London Google calendar of events in London at http://blogs.nature.com/london/2011/05/17/scientific-events-calendar. Updated daily.

————————————————————————–

As well as our regularly maintained calendar, you can find lots of other suggestions of science-y events in London. We have compiled a list of some other places to look: we will continue adding to this list, and please do, as always, send us additions for it:

Collections and calendars

Londonist recommendations: All things scientific, technical and geeky

Ian Visits: A calendar of all types of events in London, including science and engineering, with added editorial

Museums, societies etc:

Wellcome Collection: Regular events and exhibitions of a medical flavour at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road

Royal Institution: Miscellaneous science and policy events

Royal Society: Science, policy and conferences

ZSL: Zoological Society of London; occasional events on conservation and zoology

Hunterian Museum: Part of the Royal College of Surgeons, with a treasure trove of specimens and surgical paraphenalia

University calendars (usually featuring dozens of events per week)

UCL

Imperial

LSE

 

Science Events in London 9 – 15 April

Another quiet week beginning with the Bank Holiday Monday, but still several possibilities for thinking in amongst all the chocolate:

Tuesday

In The Righteous Mind, the Royal Institution plays host to Jonathan Haidt, the highly influential psychologist, who will take a look at morality and show us why we all find it so hard to get along. 7:00pm; £10; book in advance.

Wednesday

It’s not quite clear how much science will be involved in this comedy show, but it is called School Night and each of the performers will be taking on a different subject, with Biology and Physics so far among the selected. 8pm start at Ginglik in Shepherds Bush; tickets £8.

Thursday

Art meets chemistry at the Chemistry Centre tonight with, “From test tube to Turner – the role of the chemist in art”. Professor Andy Abbott will look at how chemists and alchemists developed the modern pallet, while looking as far as what colour, and even art, actually is. 6:30pm; free but advanced booking essential.

Friday

A lunchtime lecture at the Royal Society asks a very important question: ‘How should a chemist understand brewing?’. Dr James Sumner looks at how the chemists of the 1800s overcame suspicion to help improve the beer making process. 2pm start; free and no need to book.

The Weekend

Family Fun Day is back at the RI this Saturday and Bugs are the topic under the microscope. Few specific details are given about the activities, but I think it’s fair to predict live creatures of all shapes and sizes will be involved. 11-4pm drop in; £10 for adults, £5 for children.

Hampstead Observatory is still running its winter schedule of observing, open Friday and Saturday night 8-10pm for star gazing and Sunday 11-1pm for sun gazing. Free and no need to book, but all weather dependent, so check first.

You can follow the Nature Network London Google calendar of events in London at http://blogs.nature.com/london/2011/05/17/scientific-events-calendar. Updated daily.

————————————————————————–

As well as our regularly maintained calendar, you can find lots of other suggestions of science-y events in London. We have compiled a list of some other places to look: we will continue adding to this list, and please do, as always, send us additions for it:

Collections and calendars

Londonist recommendations: All things scientific, technical and geeky

Ian Visits: A calendar of all types of events in London, including science and engineering, with added editorial

Museums, societies etc:

Wellcome Collection: Regular events and exhibitions of a medical flavour at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road

Royal Institution: Miscellaneous science and policy events

Royal Society: Science, policy and conferences

ZSL: Zoological Society of London; occasional events on conservation and zoology

Hunterian Museum: Part of the Royal College of Surgeons, with a treasure trove of specimens and surgical paraphenalia

University calendars (usually featuring dozens of events per week)

UCL

Imperial

LSE