The Royal Society is giving £3000 (4000 USD) to 15 museums and galleries in the UK to help promote their local heroes. The McLean Museum and gallery in Scotland is using the money to display 3D printing techniques alongside the life works of James Watt, who improved upon the existing steam engine during Britan’s first Industrial Revolution and gives his name to the watt unit of power measurement found in lightbulbs. The display is titled James Watt: A New Dimension and aims to show how printing has evolved through the ages. It will display 3D printers alongside some of Watt’s machines that also developed an early method of copying drawings and designs.
Copying sculptures in the 18th century
In the late 1770’s Watt began by experimenting with multiples pens which were linked by rods to copy design. However, this technique proved to be too difficult. He then decided to press the original paper he was using against a thin tissue paper in order for the ink on the original paper to leak through.
In his lifetime, Watt also created a collection of plaster holds for sculptures of gods, a lion and one potentially of the man himself which has been recreated through 3D scanning and casting.
Local Heroes Scheme
The Royal Society was first founded in London in 1660 to promote knowledge of the sciences. This particular fund for museums is named the Local Heroes scheme, as it hopes to engage and inspire the public by making them aware of scientists who historically lived in the area. The idea is similar to the city-wide tradition of naming university buildings after notable figures, for example the John Dalton building at the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University, named after the famous chemist.
Science across the UK
Other museums to acquire the funding include Ballymoney Museum in Ireland who will be celebrating Andre Claude de la Crommelin who studied Halley’s Comet, and a homage to palaeontologist Dean R. Lomax. It’s the perfect treat for an science lovers up and down the country to get a special glimpse of scientific history.
Featured Image shows guests viewing Watt’s workshop re-created at the Science Museum, London. Photo via Journal of Science Museums.