— digitalgrip.fieldnotes

Why “significant details” ?

Filming with scientists is one of the most enjoyable ways to make a living I can think of. The one thing that beats it, reliably, is not filming with scientists.

Quite often, usually while the camera crew is getting set up, I sit there with a (slightly distracted) scientist and the conversation turns to this or that unsual artefact on the desk/shelf/window sill. And almost every time they begin to tell the most outrageous stories, all true I am willing to believe, about explosions and misguided experiments, about epiphanies and fruitless expeditions, about missing links and missing data, about former failures and future questions. And every time, maddeningly, none of this is mentioned ever again as soon as the camera rolls.

Not this time!

This time, these objects, the catalysts for so many stories from the heart of science, will take center stage.


ostrich stomach_600

Not one of ‘our’ details, unfortunately, though it clearly has potential… Contents of an Ostrich’s stomach* (National Media Museum)


* Frederick Willam Bond was photographer at the Zoological Society of London. Amongst more conventional photographs of the inhabitants of London Zoo, he also photographed objects retrieved from an ostrich’s stomach after its death. Details of what it swallowed are written on the back of the print.
Somehow, during its lifetime, the poor bird managed to ingest a lace handkerchief, a buttoned glove, a length of rope, a plain handkerchief (probably a man’s), assorted copper coins, metal tacks, staples and hooks, and a four-inch nail – a step too far, and the cause of death.