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Scientists and schoolchildren bury time capsule under £100M+ lab

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4 October 2012

Scientists, children and constructors have buried their predictions for the future, to be dug up in 25 years, at The Pirbright Institute, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Pupils from Pirbright Village Primary School have joined staff of The Pirbright Institute (formerly known as the Institute for Animal Health) and constructors to bury a time capsule in the grounds of The Pirbright Institute's new £100M+ laboratory.

The event marks the day that the Institute for Animal Health is renamed The Pirbright Institute and it is the latest milestone in the construction of the institute's new facilities by Team Pirbright, led by Shepherd Construction.

The new laboratory, funded by BBSRC with support from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, is due to be complete in 2014 and will enable the Institute to further develop as a world-class centre of excellence for research into viral diseases of livestock and viruses that spread from animals to humans

The time capsule, which was buried in the path leading to the new laboratory's entrance, contains scientific predictions. When the capsule is dug up in 25 years, these will illuminate how far science has moved on from the present day and what has changed at the Institute..

The capsule contains books of sketches and drawings by the pupils depicting their thoughts on the inventions of the future. The pupils were inspired by an activity called "Science Fiction or Science Prediction?" in which they looked at ideas that featured in science fiction 25 years ago or more, some but not all of which have been realised in science and technology in the present.

In addition Institute staff have made their own submissions including:

  • Predictions for the future of science and the Institute
  • Snapshots of their working life and history at the Institute

Shepherd Construction has contributed to the time capsule with books and a DVD recording the progress of the new building which has utilised today's most advanced construction methods.

Professor John Fazakerley, Director, The Pirbright Institute said "We wanted to capture the essence of the Institute as it is now. Our physical space is developing and we are undergoing considerable change as an organisation. We also thought it would be interesting to see if we can predict where things are going in the future. There is no doubt; things will be very different in 25 years' time. I hope that our future colleagues will enjoy looking back from 2037 to where this new phase of the Institute's life started."

Professor Douglass Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said "The time capsule marks a historic moment as we look to the future potential of this unrivalled facility. The Pirbright Institute is responsible for vital research into livestock diseases and it was thanks to the institute that Rinderpest became the first animal virus to be contained and then eradicated in the wild in 2010. When we look back in 25 years' time, we shall have witnessed many more extraordinary achievements due to this important investment in world-class bioscience."

David Crampton, Shepherd Construction's project director commented: "The time capsule has been a great way of bringing science and construction to life for, what could be, our next generation of scientists and project managers. It was great to see their enthusiasm and it will be intriguing to see how many of the predictions come true as well as just how far laboratory construction methods have moved on."

Chiara Sinclair, year 6 teacher and school science coordinator at Pirbright Village Primary School said "The children have been so excited about this project. They were really inspired to imagine how they could use science and technology to bring their inventions to life in the future. Perhaps some of them will even be working at The Pirbright Institute themselves in 25 years!"


Scientists and schoolchildren bury time capsule under £100M+ lab. Credit: Shepherd Construction
Scientists and schoolchildren bury time capsule under £100M+ lab. Credit: Shepherd Construction

About The Pirbright Institute

The Pirbright Institute is a world leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of virus diseases of farm animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans. Based in the UK and receiving strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Institute works to enhance capability to contain, control and eliminate these economically and medically important diseases through highly innovative fundamental and applied bioscience. With an annual income of over £25M from grants and commercial activity, and a total of £76.9M strategic investment from BBSRC during 2011-12, the Institute contributes to global food security and health, improving quality of life for animals and people.

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