University involved in launch of new earthquake display

Visitors to museums in Leicester and Rutland will be able to jump and make their own earthquakes - when The Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan, MP,  Secretary of State for Education launched a new earthquake display at the New Walk Museum in Leicester on 12 February.

The interactive earthquake display is the latest gift from the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society to the Museum funded from the HS Bennett Fund which was created in 1930s  ‘to assist original investigations’  and promote education in science.

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle was among those who attended the launch.

Nicky Morgan, Prof Paul Boyle, Prof Aftab Khan, Paul Denton and Mrs Joan Beeson
This display links with the Seismology in Schools Project managed by the British Geological Survey and initially started at the University of Leicester.  This project uses simple seismometers installed in schools to detect signals from large earthquakes happening anywhere in the world.  The destructive power of earthquakes excites and fascinates youngsters and many students who find physics uninspiring are stimulated by seeing a simple seismograph detect and record signals from distant earthquakes.

Emeritus Professor Aftab Khan of the Department of Geology said: “The availability of cheap computers and the internet have made it possible for secondary schools throughout the world to install seismographs to continuously record and exchange earthquake data in real time and stimulate interests in geology, physics, hazards, and the exploration for water, hydrocarbons, and other  materials the rapidly expanding world population will need in the future. Installing seismographs in museums as at New Walk and Oakham will expand the outreach to a wider population from  primary school children to grandparents just as the telescope allowed stargazing and the development of interests in science half a millennium ago.”

The Literary and Philosophical Society have a long and close working relationship with New Walk Museum and Art Gallery since its conception in 1849 when the Society formally presented to the town its various collections, and assisted with the purchase of the building in which it has grown and developed over the last 160 years into one of the premier museums in the region.

A second matched display gifted by the Society will be launched by the President, Mrs Joan Beeson, with 90 children from Oakham Church of England Primary School on 11th February at the Rutland County Museum.  The data from both seismographs will be shared live online.   This exciting project will mean that anyone can watch the earth move anywhere in the world, even before the news of an earthquake reaches the media.