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Explore a Room of Skulls With Google Street View

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I’m not going to mince words here: skulls are awesome. So that’s why you need to check out the skull room at the California Academy of Sciences. The 4,000-square-foot exhibit holds over 640 skulls, all available to behold (and some to touch!).

The Academy wants its visitors to explore death as a means to explain life. “From an enormous bull elephant to a tiny elephant shrew, every skull tells a story about the life, death, and evolution of vertebrates,” the website says.

The most prominent segment is a 90-foot wide wall of California sea lion noggins. The inventory may seem like a lot, but it’s actually only one-sixth of the Academy’s scientific collection. Hidden amongst the impressive hoard are warthog, wolf, walrus, and other skulls that visitors are asked to pick out from the group.

On top of sea lion skulls, the Academy also offers interactive activities, flesh-eating beetles, and a full orca skeleton that bears a striking resemblance to mosasaurus.

In clockwise order: domestic sheep, helmeted hornbill, Ganges River dolphin, Malayan tapir.

If you are in the area, you can see this cool exhibit in person from now until the end of November. Those at a geographic disadvantage can also enjoy the morbid fun remotely via Google. Google’s Street View lets you peruse the museum right on your computer, so you don’t have to spend all that money on airfare.

On top of a virtual tour, you can also check out 3D views of some of the skulls in the exhibit. The only logical next step is to start 3D printing these things out and decorating your home with them. I recommend the creepy Ganges River Dolphin skull, which doubles as an aquatic chainsaw.

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Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP/Getty Images
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gross
How a London Museum Is Preserving a Chunk of the 143-Ton Whitechapel Fatberg
Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP/Getty Images
Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP/Getty Images

When UK officials learned of the 143-ton Whitechapel fatberg mucking up London’s sewer system, their first concern was getting rid of it. Now, the curators at the Museum of London are figuring out how to best preserve a chunk of the monstrous trash mass so as many visitors as possible can see it.

As WIRED UK reports, the museum's exhibition, titled "Fatberg!", launches on Friday, February 9. It features a congealed mound of fat, hair, diapers, wet wipes, sanitary napkins, and condoms that was salvaged from the Whitechapel fatberg shortly after it was discovered beneath the streets of London in September 2017. According to the exhibition’s curator, Vyki Sparkes, no one has ever tried preserving a fatberg before.

The garbage globs, which form from grease and oil poured down sink drains, attract debris ranging in size from candy wrappers to planks of wood. Just a small piece of one can provide a fascinating glimpse at the waste that ends up in city sewers, but displaying a fatberg for the public to view poses logistical challenges.

In this case, the fatberg piece was set out to dry for seven weeks before it was transported to the Museum of London. The resulting item has the consistency of "parmesan crossed with moon rock," according to CBC News, and is roughly the size of a shoebox. Outside of the moist environment of London’s underbelly, the solid chunk may continue to dry out and crumble into pieces. Mold growth and sewer fly infestations are also potential issues as long as it's left out in the open.

The museum curators initially considered pickling the fatberg in formaldehyde to solve the aging problem. This idea was ultimately nixed as the liquid would have likely dissolved the whole lump into loose sludge. Freezing was another possibility, but the museum was unable to get a hold of the specialist freezers necessary for that to happen in time.

In the end, the curators decided to display it as-is within three layers of boxes. The clear cases are meant to spare guests from the noxious odor that Sparkes described to CBC News as a weeks-old diaper smell that’s simmered into something more like a “damp Victorian basement.” The exhibition closes July 1, at which point the museum must decide if the fatberg, if it remains intact, should become a permanent part of their collection. And if the mass doesn’t end up surviving the five-month show, obtaining another one to sample shouldn’t be too difficult.

[h/t WIRED UK]

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dvdbramhall, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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History
London's Foundling Museum Will Temporarily Replace Male Portraits With Artwork of Women
dvdbramhall, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
dvdbramhall, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Foundling Museum in London owes its existence to women. A group of 21 women petitioned to open the Foundling Hospital, the UK's first children's charity, in the 18th century, and today the museum celebrates its history. But you wouldn’t know the important role those women played in the hospital’s origins from looking around the museum’s all-male picture gallery.

Now, in honor of the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in the UK, the Foundling Museum hopes to change that. The institution is raising funds to swap the portraits of men on the walls with those of women, The Art Newspaper reports.

Thomas Coram founded the hospital for babies at risk of abandonment in 1739, but he didn’t do it alone. In order to receive a Royal Charter from the king to open it, he needed to gather enough signatures on a petition. The men he approached weren’t interested, but when he started reaching out to women he received a much different response. Charlotte, Duchess of Somerset was the first to sign her name, and many more duchesses followed her lead. The only evidence of these “ladies of quality and distinction” is a page in his notebook listing their names. The museum’s portraits of male governors, however, are displayed prominently.

This year marks the centenary of women’s right to vote in the UK, and the museum is using it as an opportunity to exalt the women who have been written out of the hospital’s story. They’re seeking £20,000 (about $28,400) to gather portraits of the women currently scattered around the nation and hang them in place of the men who have dominated the portrait gallery for centuries. For the women whose portraits have either been lost or destroyed, the museum will display reproductions or empty frames in their honor.

The Foundling Museum hopes to run the "Ladies of Quality and Distinction" show from September 21, 2018 to January 13, 2019 if they successfully raise the funds they need. Either way, the museum plans to host additional talks and displays through the year in honor of women’s suffrage. You can donate to their campaign here.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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