From Compost to Cosmos Research goes on Display

A new interactive project demonstrating how the ‘C. elegans’, a minuscule worm that lives in your compost, helps world-leading research carried out at the University of Dundee will go on display at Mills Observatory this weekend.

A massive interactive video wall will allow visitors to get up close and personal with the inner world of the 1mm long roundworm, which is widely used in experiments including those by NASA and other space agencies to test the effects of space on aging and weightlessness.

On Earth, C. elegans, the ‘Giant Worm’, is used by biomedical researchers in the School of Life Sciences at the University to investigate human development, genetics, aging and diseases such as Parkinson’s and cancer.

The observatory installation is the next project from Outer Space | Inner Space, an interdisciplinary collaboration using research technology to make scientific research accessible to all.

Outer Space | Inner Space is a science communication venture funded by the Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression (GRE) at the University by a Strategic Grant from the Wellcome Trust and hosted by Leisure & Culture Dundee at Mills Observatory.

Professor Tom Owen-Hughes, Head of GRE, said, “The Mills Observatory provides a unique opportunity to contrast the scale of the cosmos with our own work studying the molecular basis for life on earth. We hope visitors to the observatory will enjoy the opportunity to explore the microscopic world we share with all living creatures.”

Christine Millar, Section Leader for Learning & Engagement at Leisure & Culture Dundee, said, “We are delighted to be working with the University of Dundee to introduce this research as part of our Winter Events Programme.

 “The interactive video wall that has been installed for this project is also used for our planetarium shows and really enhances the visitor experience at the observatory.”

A special launch event taking place on Sunday, 4th December from 2 – 4pm will allow visitors to see the ‘Giant Worm’ and the scientists who use it in research and take part in some Christmas science themed craft activities. The Giant Worm will be available to view in the Observatory’s Planetarium during public opening hours from this Sunday until Friday, 31st March 2017, except when the space is in use for Planetarium Shows or Workshops.

Admission is free and there is no need to book in advance.

Project website:
Mills Observatory website:
GRE website:
C.elegans group website: