Inside the Collection


The Bunsen burner and the periodic table

March 21, 2011

Debbie Rudder
Most of us are familiar with the Bunsen burner from our high schools days. I hope that mention of it brings a flood of pleasant (if sometimes smelly) memories. One of these memories should be the definition of an element, an idea that is central to the science of chemistry: a pure substance that can't be broken down into simpler substances.

Oceans, data, and climate change: Sea Robots

February 8, 2011

Erika Taylor
Attention data nerds and science geeks, you will love this object. This is what is known as an Argo float (I prefer the term sea robot), the picture doesn’t give you a sense of scale but the whole unit is about 6 feet tall.

Old objects new ideas: volcanoes and climate change

February 1, 2011

Erika Taylor
This inconspicuous lump of rock is actually a piece of lava from Mt. Vesuvius, Italy. It is one of the Museum’s earliest collected objects, having been purchased in 1886 in New York. It was probably no more that a curiosity back then, yet it has been incredibly valuable for us to use in discussing contemporary issues.

The Cryptograph

January 25, 2011

Campbell Bickerstaff
Charles Wheatstone was interested in codes and ciphers and as part of his recreational activities amused himself by deciphering coded correspondence in the notices of daily newspapers usually sent between clandestine lovers or men concealing matters of business.

James Watt’s chemistry

January 19, 2011

Debbie Rudder
19 January 2011 is the 275th anniversary of James Watt's birthday. Because this is the International Year of Chemistry, to mark his birthday let's take a look at Watt's work as a chemist rather than as an engineer.

The amazing pre-history of cinema

January 4, 2011

Debbie Rudder
Happy New Year to our blog readers. Today we have some historic fireworks to share with you. This intriguing device is a chromatrope, a mechanical slide for an early type of projector called a magic lantern.

World AIDS Day 1st December 2010 and the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt

December 1, 2010

Anni Turnbull
First diagnosed in 1981, HIV/AIDS is the major infectious epidemic of the late 20th century. Community and government organisations have educated on the disease and its transmission. The idea for the first AIDS Quilt was conceived in the United States of America in San Francisco in 1987.

Rocketing away!

November 26, 2010

Kerrie Dougherty
It’s a little known fact that Britain is the only country to have developed its own satellite launch capability and then abandoned it. Britain’s launch vehicle was called Black Arrow and it was launched four times from the Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia between 1969 and 1971 before the program was cancelled.

Does the idea of a hydrogen economy make your hair curl?

October 22, 2010

Debbie Rudder
Imagine lighting up this little mains-connected gas heater to warm your hair-curling tongs, or pressing your clothes with your iron connected to a gas outlet rather than a power point. And imagine that one of the major constituents of the gas is hydrogen.

Pushing up daisies- a mortuary table

October 18, 2010

Damian McDonald
This mortuary table was used in the mortuary at St Joseph's Hospital, Auburn, in Sydney’s western suburbs in the 1940s and 1950s. It was used for both teaching and medical purposes. It was also used to prepare bodies for transport to funeral homes.

Beneath the Streets: the Tank Stream

September 27, 2010

Erika Taylor
The object above is actually part of the Tank Stream sewer, and surprisingly one of the most significant objects in our collection. The Tank Stream started as an actual naturally occurring water source and was one of Governor Philip's formative reasons for choosing the site for the Colony's first settlement in 1788.