Manchester’s Alienated Life exhibit showcases Chernobyl’s soaring animal population – 30 years after nuclear disaster

Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry hosted an Alienated Life event that used virtual reality technology to allow visitors to see which animals are thriving in Chernobyl, following the disaster.

The Platform for Investigation (Pi) exhibit focused on animals that now inhabit Chernobyl. Virtual reality technology allowed them to be seen in a “Virtual Chernobyl” when wearing a headset – controlled by eye movement sensors.

Alienated Life - Platform for Investigation -

A nuclear disaster, caused by a nuclear reactor malfunction, struck Chernobyl, Ukraine on April 26, 1986. It has since been called the “worst nuclear power plant accident in history.” Consequently, 115,000 citizens were evacuated but animals got left behind.

Dr Mike Wood, 38, reader in applied ecology at the University of Salford, largely influenced the event, which came almost 30 years after the disaster. The exhibit was based on information obtained by Dr Wood and his colleagues.

Dr Wood, who arrived from Chernobyl one hour before the event, said the exhibit appealed to everyone.

“What I really hope people will get out of the Alienated Life exhibit is for people to take, not just my word for what the zone is like, but they will be able to look for themselves and make their own decisions about the way in which the wildlife and environment are actually developing.”

Although some areas in Chernobyl are somewhat inhabitable for humans, Dr Wood explained how he managed to ensure his own safety when conducting research there, and what the exhibition displays, in the video below.

Additionally Rosie Mawdsley, 42, contemporary science programme coordinator at the Museum of Science and Industry, explained why the Pi was developed.

“Scientists have a physical platform to deliver information about what they are working on. It is all about targeting youngsters and getting them inspired by science.”

Dr Wood shared his hopes for the exhibition, in a wider context.

“I want visitors to see for themselves that Chernobyl is not the way it is portrayed in a lot of the mainstream popular culture media. It is not just this crumbling, derelict, greying, radioactive wasteland. It is actually something much more.”

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