Good morning to our readers, on behalf of everyone here at the Grant Museum I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Today we are looking at an animal which is better known for delivering presents to children around the world than the fascinating aspects of its anatomy. This animal first became associated with a certain bearded-man-with-a-red-hat in 1823, when Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem ‘A visit from St. Nicholas’(1). Since then the reputation has kind of stuck. Hopefully today’s blog will demonstrate that there is much more to love about these animals than just the work they do on Christmas Eve. Without further ado let us introduce our festive friend all the way from the North Pole, it’s our very own…
Dean Veall here. ‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all the Museum, not a creature was stirring (on account of them being dead and all), not even a mouse, (because that particular specimen was preserved using an experimental freeze drying technique). Festive greetings blog readers. I’ve chosen the guineafowl for my specimen this week, which has (sort of, ish) festive connections. The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), was often confused with the more familiar guineafowl in the 1600’s when European settlers reached America, due to the the featherless heads and similar colouration of the plumage. And with that tenuous festive link, this week’s Specimen of the Week is:
Tis the season to be Jolly! We’re into the time for celebrations, festive cheer and office parties, drinks, mince pies and holiday decorations. And yet using some of those decorations could have serious consequences for us in the future, I’m talking of course about the menace that is… helium filled balloons.
Helium and UCL have a long and entwined history. Sir William Ramsay first identified it on earth on March 26th, 1895, in his UCL lab (now an artist’s studio in the Slade School of Art) and it was this, along with his discovery of argon, neon, krypton and xenon, that won him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1904. There’s a couple of labs named after him, and arguably without him our neighbouring area of Soho would look very different (as helium is used in ‘Neon’ signs). (more…)
IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Nearly). Two days to go and I already can’t sleep I’m so excited. My house is adorned with hanging decorations, two Christmas trees (one’s tiny in my defence), tinsel on all the shelves, and a very cheap looking Christmas wreath from Poundland purchased after the budget ran out. It is a Christmas wonderland and so, it is no surprise I imagine that you are about to read about a Christmassy animal. But not one you might be expecting. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)
by guest blogger: Helen Pike
Feeling the stress of Christmas, blitzed out on overpriced gaudy baubles, one too many festive drinks on the calendar, need a restorative notion …. then take a tour round the Petrie museum this December time and contemplate a more ancient approach to soothe your furrowed brows…
Why not deck the halls with thoughts of the Amarna temple wall tiles
These tiles were found at Amarna capital of the heretic Pharaoh Akenaten with his missus the renowned beauty Nefertiti -who both knew a thing or two about decoration preferring to chuck out the chintz if you like and gods of previous dynasties and bring in a revolution in terms of artistic production and new idols – the sprit of Aten. The tiles in the Petrie collection are exquisite in terms colour and pattern and conjure up what must have been a spectacular wall covering in the temple. Take a leaf out of the master of sun worship and reinvent your home your own way this Christmas with a new take on décor and not be swayed by the gaudy baubles out there… (more…)
Many of us may be looking forward to Christmas in a few weeks’ time, but for many of our Egyptian (and other Coptic readers) Christmas will not be until January 7th 2014.
Coptic is a bit of a hydra of a term, with a few meanings that can be used synonymously or separately. The word Coptic derives from the Greek ‘aigyptos’ referring to the people of Egypt, originally this term had nothing to do with religious order or identity. Whilst ‘Egypt’ comes from more of an Ancient Egyptian pronunciation, Copt most probably held an Arabic influence, with the initial ‘ai’ being dropped to produce the plosive ‘K’ sound (Gregorious 1982, Downer).
I cannot believe, age 31, how excited I am that it is Christmas Eve. I have been uncontrollably bouncy all week, for the last three weeks actually, and completely insufferable to all in close contact with me. It’s not the presents I’m excited about…
That’s a blatant lie… let me start again and be more honest.
It’s not just the presents I’m excited about, it is the coming together of my family to talk, play games, have a huge dinner, and just ‘be together’ rather than exercise our all too comfy relationship with the television night after night. At Christmas the streets are decorated, the shop windows look prettier, people are happier, and families make an extra effort to be together, and more importantly, to get on. I love it. It will come as no surprise whatsoever therefore that the Specimen of the Week is inspired by one of the most iconic Christmas animals. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)