The connection between science and science fiction is being explored at a groundbreaking recent interactive exhibition on the Science Museum. “Science Fiction: Voyage to the Fringe of Imagination” recreates an adventure through the cosmos, boarding a spacecraft and even happening an away mission to a different world, even perhaps to have an alien encounter. On this voyage, accompanied by a curious AI guide, visitors will see greater than 70 iconic artefacts of science and props from science fiction — from a model Saturn V rocket and the world’s smallest-ever pacemaker to Darth Vader’s helmet from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and a duplicate of a Dalek from “Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks”.
Science Museum Group director and chief executive Sir Ian Blatchford said: “Science fiction invites us all to be explorers, venturing across time and space while reflecting on the deepest existential query there may be — what makes us human?
“Our ambitious exhibition is unlike another and I cannot wait for visitors to hitch us on this immersive and interactive journey through the extraordinary worlds of science fiction and science discovery.”
Exhibition lead curator Dr Glyn Morgan said: “Science fiction offers us the prospect to watch our own planet and consider our impact upon it.
“Visitors will see brilliant futures the genre has imagined and be confronted by among the biggest threats to our existence—climate change, ecological devastation and nuclear war—as we invite them to think about how often-dystopian imaginings could give us the mental and emotional tools to assume and create more utopian futures.”
He told Express.co.uk: “The connection between science and science fiction is something that I personally have been all for for a really very long time.
“And the museum has been type of gesturing towards the theme inside other exhibitions for quite a protracted time — so, it was about time that we did a complete exhibition on this.”
Of the myriad of science fiction objects on display in the gathering, Dr Morgan said that his favourite is a screen-used Lieutenant Nyota Uhura costume worn by the late, great Nichelle Nichols in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”.
He explained: “For me, it’s amazing to have it on multiple levels. Initially, it’s an original costume, Nichelle Nichols actually wore it — she’s this iconic character and as an enormous Star Trek fan I like that we are able to have that type of tangible relationship to that show and that character.
“But in addition, we’re using it to inform a story about people, and that’s one other aspect of the exhibition.”
Ms Nichols portrayal of Uhura was groundbreaking for African American actresses on television — and was famously persuaded by Martin Luther King to stay within the role after the primary season due to the positive role model she was presenting.
Later in her life, the actress gave much of her time to helping NASA recruit women and minority personnel into the US space program, an effort that opened the best way for such pioneers as Sally Ride, the primary American woman to enter space, and Mae Jemison, the primary Black woman to journey into space.
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On the scientific hardware front, one object of particular note — which is on display for the primary time within the UK — is the “DxtER medical diagnostic unit”.
This device, developed by frontline doctor Basil Harris and his brother George was awarded the “X PRIZE” for technological development in 2017 as a part of a contest to supply an actual life “tricorder”, the multifunctional scanning device utilized by scientists in Star Trek.
The DxtER prototype — which like its fictional predecessor is totally non-invasive — is able to diagnosing 34 different conditions from diabetes to urinary tract infections using its suite of sensors.
The tool, which is in human trials within the US, could in the future help people check their health at home before deciding whether or not they might have to follow up with a GP.
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“Science Fiction: Voyage to the Fringe of Imagination” is running until May 4, 2023 — the following Star Wars Day.
Admission costs £20 for adults, £19 for seniors, £18 for concessions, £10 for college groups, and ages 7 and under go free, alongside discounts for families and groups of 6+.
An accompanied series of science-fiction–themed live events will include evening and overnight openings, panel discussions, musical performances and even the ceremony for the 2022 Arthur C. Clarke Award on October 26, which honours the perfect in sci-fi writing.
Tickets might be purchased from the Science Museum website.