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Queen Liz to check out cool science stuff

Her Highness finds out why athletes take drugs

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This afternoon the Queen will open the new Wellcome Wing of the Science Museum in London. This is the largest project at the museum in its 150-year history. The new wing, arranged over four floors, is devoted to contemporary issues in science and technology.

I had forgotten how many cool things there are in the Science museum. To get to the new wing you walk past the old Apollo spacecraft, a V2 rocket, Stephenson's Rocket and Crick and Watson's DNA spiral model in the exhibition "Making of the Modern World".

The ground floor will have current scientific news, ranging from daily news from BBC Online's science writers on touch screens embedded in seats, to feature style displays that will change every six to twelve months. There will be at least one new exhibit each week.

Currently, the main features are Drugs in Sport, and Underwater Robots. These are interactive displays, as one unfortunate hack discovered during the welcoming speech. She leaned against a button that played a recording explaining why athletes take drugs. (It is to help them win - if you were wondering.) You can also see the car Mika Hakkinen crashed at the 1999 German Grand Prix. Even after an impact at 207 mph it is barely scratched.

On the upper floors are the exhibitions "Who am I?", "Digitopolis" and "In the Future". "Who am I" explores developments in biomedical research, "Digitopolis" looks at how technology is affecting our lives, for example visitors can see Stephen Hawking's voice generating equipment. "In the Future" has pie in the sky science fiction stuff - holidays in space and so on.

There is also a kiddie's section with loads of things to do. There are foam tessellating tiles to play with, sensors in the floor to be stomped on and so on. But while this had failed to spark the imagination of the only child at the preview, who sat watching a TV projection on a wall, it went down very well with all the grown-ups, who were busy following floor lights to imitate a duck's walk.

The £50 million project has been funded by a Lottery grant as well as donations from industry sponsors. The exhibition opens to the public on Monday July 3.

Go! It is cool. ®

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