Knowledge is GREAT - Part 2

Richard visits one of the world's largest science museums and the Wellcome Medical Museum, and finds out how British scientists, engineers and doctors have shaped our understanding of the world.


This is the Science Museum in London. It has millions of visitors every year and that's because there are some pretty special things here. Let’s go and explore.

The Science Museum is home to over 230,000 objects, although only a fraction can be on display at any one time.

Now that’s what I call an engine.

The museum is dedicated to learning and knowledge. For over a hundred years, it's been engaging  people with science. The exhibitions here range from technology to space… The only issue is where to start; this place is huge…

Roger Highfield is a spokesperson for the Science Museum.

Richard: Roger, tell me about the Science Museum.

Roger: Well, this is the science museum. In fact, if you're going anywhere in the UK and you want to find out about science or technology, this is the place to come. Overall, we've got the biggest selection of iconic scientific and technological objects on the planet. We get something like 3 million visitors every year, just enjoying the kind of amazing insights we give them into, you know, the objects and the ideas that are still changing our world. 

Richard: And this exhibition is incredible. Tell me more.

Roger: This is Making the Modern World and, if you like, this is the greatest hits of science and technology. We've got a V2 rocket over there, we've got Watson and Crick's model of DNA, we've got the engine that powered the spitfire, Model T Fords, Stephenson's Rocket, you know these are – if you want to go to one place on the planet and figure out what made the modern world, this is where you've got to come.

Richard: What makes Britain so great in the search for knowledge?

Roger: Well, we've got some of the great scientific pioneers, an amazing history. Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Paul Dirac, who gave the world antimatter, and we've also got amazing scientists still at work today. We've got the world's best-known scientist, Stephen Hawking, and just a few hundred yards away from where we are, we've got Sir John Pendry, who gave the world invisibility cloaks. Now, how cool is that?

Richard: And he's stood here right now, listening to us. Shall we keep looking?


Well, that was fun! What a great way to learn about science!

This is the Wellcome Collection in London. All the items here are to do with medicine, health and the search to discover more. It’s the place to go for those who are hungry for knowledge.

This is the medicine man gallery. Some of it is really horrible.

Many of these medical objects were collected by Sir Henry Wellcome, a Victorian collector and businessman.

That’s Napoleon’s toothbrush.

Sir Mark Walport is the chief executive of the Wellcome Trust.

Richard: Sir Mark… Tell us about the Collection.

Mark: Henry Wellcome was an avid collector of objects that linked together human health and well-being and history and then the Wellcome Trust brought his collection up to date in the Medicine Now gallery, which looks at medicine, art and science in a contemporary setting.

Richard: And there's plenty of art here as well.

Mark: Absolutely. Well, here's an example. This is quite an amusing piece of art. This is a take on a skeleton where the pelvis has been swapped with the skull, and it looks slightly like a character from Star Wars.

Richard: He wants to see a doctor about that, doesn't he?

Mark: Absolutely.

Richard: So why do you think the search for knowledge is so important in Great Britain?

Mark: Knowledge is the foundation for human development, for economic development. If you look around the world, if you look around, you see the impact of science everywhere you look and the Wellcome Trust is about funding medical research and of course that advances human health throughout the world, so there's nothing really more important than knowledge.

Task 1

At which museum does Richard see these things?


Task 2

Which is the best answer for each of the questions?


Task 3

Complete the sentences from the video by matching the halves.


Task 4

Which of these words can be used as synonyms? There are always at least three right answers.


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Submitted by Emilia on Tue, 11/12/2018 - 19:51

There are a lot of science museums in Russia. Even in my small town there is a museum of space equipment with a lot of interesting objects. I think, one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century was the discovery of DNA, the invention of TV, mobile phones, the Internet, penicillins and so on. Honestly, I do not agree that knowledge is the most important thing in the world, but I do agree that it is one of the most, because there are lots of other important things in life.

Submitted by FrancktheDodger on Mon, 05/03/2018 - 18:22

Is there a science museum in your country?  In Italy and my city, Rome, there is multiple choice of museums about knowledge, technologies and history of science in general. For instance, in Rome, the Museo Storico della Fisica e Centro Studi e Ricerche Enrico Fermi is dedicated to the relevant studies in modern physics and interdisciplinary use of the revolutionary approach to this subject by Enrico Fermi. On his will to establish a museum and his values, this place shows his historical contribution to contemporary physics, the relevant researches and aims achieved, and it is meant also to inspire other, new projects. Of course, in Rome, most of the science and technology museums have to do with archeologic and naturalistic disciplines. For instance, the Museo Civico di Zoologia is heritage from the ancient naturalistic studies of the 18th century and shows reconstructions of the habitats. It is also interesting the old Museum of Criminology, under renovation now, where there are documents and objects about the discipline, even memories of prisoners such as some poets and their troubles with justice as Giovanni Pascoli. Among others intriguing places, at Modena, there is a glamorous piece of Italian excellence in science, style and technology: the Museum Enzo Ferrari and Maranello. There, it is shown both exhibition of cars from the beginnings of Ferrari and prototypes of their engines and stories, pictures and video that witness how Ferrari has influenced costume. Moreover, at Maranello, it is possible a tour bus to visit the factory and the famous circuit. What do you think were the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century?  I think that, in the last century, the most astonishing improvements in science concerned physics applied to medicine and astronomy. Both have changed up our own concept of life - inside our body and outside our Solar system: on one side, we could observe and cure body thanks to endoscopic microsurgery, even through prenatal health surgery, and on the other side, we could understand how the universe lives and transforms itself. Do you agree that knowledge is the most important thing in the world? No, I do not. Though it could sound unconventional, I believe that it does not exist any achievement without any sense of humanity and real compassion among people. Scientific and technological discoveries, studies from the past and towards the future of space and matter are nothing for our weakness as human beings. I do not reflect under any religious dogma, but I mean that if success of knowledge did not contemplate also the respect for us all and life, it would be a regression and a shameful lost of intellect, instead.

Submitted by Nizam Balinese on Sun, 30/07/2017 - 12:25

Hello everyone.. ☆ Is there a science museum in your country? - Yes, I know one of the science museums in my country. Jakarta Science Museum was established in 1995. The museum presents a variety of interactive learning tools that can be played to stimulate the curiosity of visitors that happen to be the phenomenon of science and technology. ☆ What do you think were the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century? - The Microchip. Incredible advances in microchip have made cheaply and efficiently used for caculators, personal computers, cell phones, satellites and microwave ovens among many, many other products. ☆ Do you agree that knowledge is the most important thing in the world? - Yes, I agree that knowledge is one of the most important things in the world. Knowledge is a powerful factor that empowers people achieves great results, no great work can be done without knowledge. However, there's still something that has to be considerated as well, don't forget Health!

Submitted by crovina on Tue, 04/07/2017 - 02:17

Here in Brazil we have good museums, but we don't have a good science museum like this in Lodon. Brazil have good history museums. I think that knowledge is very important, because knowledge can transform people's life in diferente areas like medicine, technology and economy. Knowledge always makes people's life better.

Submitted by le hoang dong on Tue, 11/04/2017 - 09:04

Dear Kirk, May I ask a question about pronunciation. In the text, in the 1st introduction of Mr. Roger about the museum, he says " this is the science museum". He pronounces "the" here as if it were before a vowel. That makes me confused because that is not what I have known as well as what I have been taught. Would you explain why and when we can pronounce like that? Many thanks.

Hello le hoang dong,

'the' can also be pronounced that way to emphasise something. In this case, Roger's emphasis means that this is the most important science museum in the UK.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team