Like the T. rex skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History, the blue whale model at London's Natural History Museum is the institution's unofficial mascot. The life-sized model (28.3 meters long) is now 75 years old. New Scientist tells the story of its birth:
The giant was created by Percy and Stuart Stammwitz, a father and son team in the museum's zoology department, using photographs and measurements made by scientists on British whaling fleet vessels in the south Atlantic. Although it was accurate for its time, modern underwater photography shows the model doesn't match reality, says Sabin, probably because it was based on carcasses that became distorted as they were dragged on to ships."Magical giant: The story of a much-loved museum whale"
Built in situ in the museum's Whale Hall, the model drew on technology used to make first-world-war planes. The general foreman, William Sanders, suggested building a wooden frame, covering it in lightweight wire meshwork, then coating it with plaster and painting over that, rather than using traditional plaster casts.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.