Visit to the British Museum

travel

A couple of weeks ago I got to take a short trip back to the UK which was a chance to meet up with some old friends. As much as I have been to London countless times, it always amazes me how very much there is still to see – such a vast array of museums, galleries and sites, in a city so rich in culture and history.

To my shame, I had never visited the British Museum (or at least if I did, I was so young, I don’t remember). I frequently visit the National Science Museum and Natural History Museum, both in South Kensington alongside the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). My main interests are science and natural history and I always learn something new, of great interest in these.

So, for the first time, I finally visited the British Museum which includes such a huge array of exhibits on human history and culture from all around the world. It really amazed me how very much there is there – a permanent exhibit on millions of works across several millenia. My mind was completely blown.

One thing I am extremely proud of is how UK national museums are completely free. I think removing a financial barrier is important to allow visitors to freely explore the diversity and culture our nation offers. Of course, it’s important also to ensure museums can sustain this.

The highlight of my visit has to be the Rosetta Stone, which dates back to the year 196 BC at the time of King Ptolemy V inscribed with a decree in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptianhieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. It provided the key to unlock Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Rosetta logo: Credit: ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Rosetta mission is so-named after this very stone.  Just as the Rosetta Stone provided the key to an ancient civilisation, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft will unlock the mysteries of the oldest building blocks of our Solar System – comets.  (Read more here).

In January, little Rosetta woke up from a deep space hibernation — a huge relief for ESA who hadn’t heard from its distant spacecraft for 31 months while it was conserving power. In November this year it will rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the first to attempt a landing on a comet’s surface, and the first to follow a comet as it swings around the Sun.

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The Rosetta Stone on display at the British Museum

Caption

Caption

An Egyptian tomb at the British Museum

An Egyptian tomb at the British Museum

Ancient Greek pottery

Ancient Greek pottery

Wonderful quote I found at the British Museum

Wonderful quote I found at the British Museum

Hire me!

astronomy, BIS, communication, science, science communication, SGAC, space exploration, UKSEDS, UNAWE

Hello there!

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or my blog, you may already know a bit about me and my activities. I’m currently looking out for possible writing opportunities in science, physics and astronomy. If you’ve reached here and you’re someone looking for pitches, I’d be interested in the types of stories you have the most urgent need to fill!

My name is Ryan Laird, a science communicator from the UK and active #spacetweep. Since the start of January, I have been working as a Science Communication Intern at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) — the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. Based in Garching near Munich, Germany, I am working in ESO’s ePOD (education and Public Outreach Department) with a team of professional science communicators for the preparation of ESO, European Space Agency (ESA)/Hubble Space Telescope and International Astronomical Union (IAU) news and photo releases, publications, web pages, video scripts, exhibition panels and other public communication products. In addition, I have been actively supporting communication regarding the ESO Ultra HD expedition and am a ghostwriter for the UHD blog. I’ve become used to the fast pace dynamic and accuracy as required in this role.

I am a recent Graduate of the International Space University (ISU)‘s Space Studies Programme 2013 (SSP13), where I received generous support from the UK Space Agency and ESA. I am also a graduate of the University of Leicester, UK where obtained the degree of Physics with Astrophysics MPhys (Hons).

I have cherished many different opportunities to apply my skills and knowledge in a variety of areas including UKSEDS, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), Universe Awareness (UNAWE), ESO and the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), among industry experts, university departments and other research organisations. I have also been actively involved in research and academia, having co-authored in the journal Nature — Snodgrass, C. et al., Nature, 467, 814-816 (2010), among others, gaining experience in the planetary sciences while researching Jupiter Family Comets.

I recently helped support the UNAWE International Office in Leiden, Netherlands where my main role was to expand the concept of Space Scoop (astronomy news for kids) to a diverse range of media platforms and syndicate the content. Here I investigated the best way to improve the syndication and distribution of science content produced for and by children to mainstream children’s media. I also wrote a number of Space Scoop articles and reviews of space content for kids.

Last year I also supported SGAC at their office in Vienna, Austria at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI). There I supported SGAC’s network of over 4000 members across more than 90 countries. In this capacity, I helped organise the Space Generation Fusion Forum, preparing and editing the SGAC Annual Report, supporting general operations, web content and administration.

I also regularly write for the British Interplanetary Society‘s magazine, Spaceflight and as Vice Chair (formerly Secretary), I prepare content for UKSEDS‘ media. In addition, I maintain my own website here at rjmlaird.co.uk where I write some of my own musings in a blog, along with some space news and is where you can find additional information about me and my work.

Together my experiences have provided a me with a great range of expertise, which I’d be keen to use in a capacity to further promote astronomy, space and physics to a much wider audience — subjects very close to my heart. To further acquaint you with the specifics of my background you can view my CV from my website here (also downloadable as a .pdf and viewable on LinkedIn), along with my activities and publications which show some of my writing samples.

Also View Ryan Laird's profile on LinkedIn is where you can see some recommendations on my work. Most recently my Head of Department  (ePOD) here at ESO, Lars Lindberg Christensen, wrote me a reference downloadable here as .pdf. I am happy to provide further references if needed.

Do please get in touch if you know of or have any opportunities available.

First Results from ESO Ultra HD Expedition

astronomy, science communication

As a science communication intern in ESO’s  Education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD), I am involved at the heart of the outreach activities for this revolutionary ESO Ultra HD Expedition into the “Ultra High Definition Universe”. It has been great to be a small part of the expedition from the very start, throughout the expedition itself and now, the huge amount of UHD content being worked on currently. The first results from the expedition have now been released (see announcement for further details). 

A huge amount of content (over 120GB!) has been released freely to the public for usage under a very liberal licensing model.  ESO is perhaps the first scientific organisation to deliver free Ultra HD content which it aims to now do on a regular basis. This includes UHD footage suitable for planetarium shows  footage which will be used in thESO Supernova facility from 2017.

You can follow the ESO Ultra HD expedition on the ESOultraHD blog and on Twitter at #ESOultraHD.

Featured image credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

Support ‘Universe in a Box’

astronomy, communication, IYA, science, science communication, UNAWE

At the end of last year, I helped support Universe Awareness (UNAWE). Unfortunately my time there at Leiden University was so very short. My main role was to help expand the concept of Space Scoop – astronomy news for kids – exploring the different popular news channels that are available for children and how science can have a higher presence in them.

UNAWE is an international programme that uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire children aged 4-10 years, particularly those from an underprivileged background. The programme uses astronomy to cultivate a sense of perspective, foster a global citizenship and stimulate interest in science at a crucial age in a child’s development.

This week UNAWE launched an innovative Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to support their efforts in sharing the educational toolkit, Universe in a Box, with underprivileged communities around the world. 

The Kickstarter campaign runs from 9 May until 10 June and aims to raise €15,000:


You can try out and look through the activities online here.

Featured image credit: UNAWE

Last Chance to See Hadfield’s ‘Space Oddity’ Video

human spaceflight, science communication, space exploration

I’m gutted to read that former Canadian astronaut, Cmdr Chris Hadfield tweeted earlier today that his famous ‘Space Oddity’ video will be taken down later.  It seems David Bowie gave permission for the content to be online for a year, which comes to an end today.

Captured during Hadfield’s five months on board the International Space Station (ISS) during Expedition 34/35 (the latter for which he was commander), the astronaut was an inspiration to the world as the video has gathered over 22 million views on YouTube.

I’m very much enjoying reaching his book he released upon his return to Earth – “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”. It’s a pity I got to miss his book tour in the UK last December but I am hoping to see him this weekend in Munich.

Featured image above: Canadian astronaut, Cmdr Chris Hadfield in a screen shot from his video “Space Oddity” recorded on the ISS.