I greeted the T-Rex, grabbed myself a paper brain and a paper heart and sat comfortably on my chair, listening to the sound of a folk band.
No, this isn’t a hipster sci-fi version of the Wizard of Oz – I was at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, having no idea of what to expect. A friend had given me tickets for this event called The Heart and the Head and she seemed quite excited about it. All I knew was the mysterious description on the website: “Join researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre For Human Genetics and James Bell and the Half Moon All Stars for an evening of music and genetic stories”. Well, I wouldn’t miss it.
The museum is gorgeous, of course. The architecture, the dodo and the dinosaurs were there in their splendor, but this time they took a back row seat. After the band gifted us with a couple of songs, they lowered their volume a bit and kept playing in the background as the first researcher stepped towards the microphone.
And here comes the part that filled me with awe and wonder.
The researcher wasn’t there to talk about science -or to teach science. She told us a story from the third year of her PhD, of a time in which she was feeling insecure about her future, and of a day that made her feel differently, that made her feel empowered. The “I’ll never make it to the top” at the beginning of the story turned into “One day I’ll be there”.
The band then started another track, making room for another speaker. And so they followed, five scientists told us stories that yes, did relate to their science, but through their hearts and through their heads. They told us about things that made them feel, things that made them think.
As the band closed the evening with more music and we left the museum (and the dinosaurs!) behind, I am sure we’d all learnt some things about science. But most importantly, we learnt something about the scientists there, about what makes their hearts beat and their heads tingle. It was a unique event, and a beautiful evening!