Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Science Gallery: London & Kew Picture Special

Charles Darwin overlooked the Central Hall of the Natural History Museum in London between 1885 and 1927, when it was replaced by a statue of Richard Owen (the scientist who coined the term 'Dinosaur'). Owen, while agreeing with Darwin that evolution took place, did not agree with Darwin on the explanation he outlined in 'On the Origin of Species'. Owen was a driving force behind the establishment of the Natural History Museum in London. Darwin's statue was returned to the Central Hall to celebrate Darwin 200.

Thomas Henry Huxley was known as Darwin's Bulldog because of his strong defence of Darwin's ideas. His Great Debate of 1860 with the Bishop of Oxford Samuel Wilberforce was a key turning point in the public acceptance of the theory of evolution.
In an address on the occasion of handing over the Darwin statue to the Museum, Huxley himself said: "we beg you to cherish this Memorial as a symbol by which, as generation after generation of students of Nature enter yonder door, they shall be reminded of the ideal according to which they must shape their lives, if they would turn to the best account the opportunities offered by the great institution under your charge".

 A cherry blossom grows on the banks of the The Pond, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. See our earlier post on cherry blossoms here.

Above, some images of the plant life at Kew, including Pitcher Plants and Orchids. Also, an image taken from the top of the Xstrata Tree-top walk which takes you 18 metres into the air. The walkway is decorated with plaques which explain some astonishing facts about plant life.

A close-up shot of the spectacular bark of Encephalartos altensteinii, the oldest pot plant in the world. See our earlier post on this plant here.

The roof of the Palm House at Kew. Measuring 363 feet long, 100 feet wide and 66 feet high, the Palm House was designed by Decimus Burton and Richard Turner and built between 1844 and 1848. It is the world's most important surviving Victorian glass and iron structure. The structure was repaired in the 1950's and 1980's. During the most recent renovation, the glasshouse was emptied completely for the first time in its history. It was entirely deconstructed and put back together, replacing damaged parts with identical replacements.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, has as its mission statement : To enable better management of the Earth's environment by increasing knowledge and understanding of the plant and fungal kingdoms - the basis of life on earth.
Behind Kew's Mission Statement runs a simple maxim;
"All life depends on plants"

If you liked these photos and have taken some of your own, you might want to enter our Science Photo Competition. Entries close on Saturday 15th May, so get snapping.


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