Sci-fi show at Science Museum stars Reading climate experts
21 October 2022
Scientists from the University of Reading have helped to bridge the gap between fiction and reality in the Science Museum’s latest exhibition.
Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination transports visitors aboard an alien spaceship into the heart of a science fiction story filled with iconic objects which explore how scientists and science fiction creators have inspired each other through innovation and imagination.
Along the way, visitors have the opportunity to explore strange new worlds and gaze over planet Earth.
Professor Hannah Cloke, a University of Reading hydrologist and climate hazards researcher, appears in a video exhibit providing visitors with examples of the importance of imagination in the world of climate science.
Professor Cloke’s contribution can be found in a section of the exhibition about the science and future risks of climate change.
She said: “This was a fantastic project to be involved in, especially for a sci-fi geek like me.
“It was great to collaborate with the Science Museum on an exhibition that is not only fun and interesting, but also very important for our understanding of future risks, such as climate change.
“This exhibition shows the important role imagination and storytelling can play in inspiring developments in science and technology, as well as preparing society to face big challenges we cannot otherwise see.”
Also on display is the climate spiral, a graphic created by Professor Ed Hawkins, University of Reading climate scientist.
The spiral, first shared by Professor Hawkins in 2016 and featured in the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics that year, demonstrates global temperature change since 1850 in a compelling animated visualisation.
The two climate inspired exhibits are part of over 70 objects on display, including Darth Vader’s helmet created for created for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and a Dalek from Doctor Who.
Dr Glyn Morgan, Lead Curator for the exhibition, said: "We were keen to include the ‘Climate Spiral’ visualisation designed by Professor of Climate Science Ed Hawkins as it offers a highly visual and powerful account of our changing world and the hypnotic motion of the spiral invites visitors to pause and reflect.
“At the opposite end of the section, we wanted to speak more explicitly to the idea of “science fictional thinking” – using imagination and creativity to visualise scientific problems, extrapolate outcomes, and perhaps develop solutions.
“We were instantly drawn to the work of Professor of Hydrology Hannah Cloke, who explores these topics and more in her work. In the exhibition visitors can watch an interview with Professor Cloke speaking about her experience of the 2021 German floods, science communication, and the importance of imagination.
“It was important that the exhibition was able to end its climate section, and thus the exhibition, on a hopeful note – not only as an antidote to the heavier topics explored but to suggest that human creativity and imagination might yet offer us a way to mitigate climate change, to build a better world and rethink how we treat each other. Our imaginations are still the best tools we have in this endeavour.”