The relationship between science and science fiction is explored in a groundbreaking new interactive exhibit at the Science Museum. “Science Fiction: Journey to the Edge of the Imagination” recreates an adventure through the cosmos, boarding a spaceship and even going on a mission to another world, perhaps even to have an alien encounter. On this journey, accompanied by a curious AI guide, visitors will see more than 70 iconic science artifacts and sci-fi paraphernalia – from a model Saturn V rocket and the world’s smallest pacemaker to the helmet of Darth Vader from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and a replica 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, to venture through time and space while pondering the deepest existential question. whoever – what makes us human?
“Our ambitious exhibition is unlike any other and I can’t wait for visitors to join us on this immersive and interactive journey through the extraordinary worlds of science fiction and scientific discovery.”
The exhibit’s senior curator, Dr Glyn Morgan, said: “Science fiction offers us the opportunity to observe our own planet and consider our impact on it.
“Visitors will see a bright future the genre has imagined and come face to face with some of the greatest threats to our existence – climate change, ecological devastation and nuclear war – as we invite them to reflect on how imaginations often dystopian could give us the intellectual and emotional tools to imagine and create more utopian futures.
He told Express.co.uk: “The relationship between science and science fiction is something that has personally interested me for a very long time.
“And the museum has been gesturing towards the theme in other exhibits for quite a long time – so it was about time we did a whole exhibit about it.”
Of the myriad sci-fi items on display in the collection, Dr Morgan said his favorite was an on-screen Lieutenant Nyota Uhura costume worn by the late Nichelle Nichols in ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ .
He explained, “For me, it’s amazing to have it on multiple levels. First of all it’s an original costume Nichelle Nichols wore it – it’s this iconic character and as a big Star Trek fan I love that we can have this kind of tangible relationship with this show and this character.
“But also, we use it to tell a story about people, and that’s another aspect of the exhibit.”
Ms Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura was groundbreaking for African American actresses on TV – and was persuaded by Martin Luther King to stay in the role after season one because of the positive role model she presented.
Later in life, the actress devoted much of her time to helping NASA recruit women and minority personnel into the US space program, an effort that paved the way for pioneers such as Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space.
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On the science equipment front, a particularly notable item – which is on display for the first time in the UK – is the ‘DxtER medical diagnostic unit’.
This device, developed by frontline physician Basil Harris and his brother George, received the “X PRIZE” for technological development in 2017 in a competition to produce a real “tricorder”, the device of multi-functional scan used by Star Trek scientists.
The DxtER prototype – which, like its fictional predecessor, is completely non-invasive – is able to diagnose 34 different conditions, from diabetes to urinary tract infections, using its suite of sensors.
The tool, which is undergoing human trials in the US, could one day help people check their health at home before deciding if they might need to follow up with a GP .
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“Science Fiction: Journey to the Edge of the Imagination” runs until May 4, 2023, the next Star Wars Day.
Admission is £20 for adults, £19 for seniors, £18 for concessions, £10 for school groups, and children 7 and under are free, plus family and group discounts 6 years and over.
An accompanying series of science fiction-themed live events will include evening and overnight openings, panel discussions, musical performances, and even the 2022 Arthur C. Clarke Prize ceremony on October 26, which honors the best of science fiction writing.
Tickets can be purchased from the Science museum website.