I'm in Java, and even though I'm ahead of most of the world's time zones, I'm behind on the news. This news from the University of Witswatersrand is an exciting and positive development:
In an unprecedented gesture of open access to science and public participation, the University of the Witwatersrand, the Gauteng Provincial Government and the South African national government announced that for the first time in history, the process of exploring and uncovering these fossil remains would be conducted live, captured on video, and conveyed to the world in real time. This will allow members of the public and the scientific community to share in the unfolding discovery in an unprecedented way.
A laboratory studio, designed in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, will be built at the Maropeng Visitor Centre in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. It will allow the public to view the preparation of this skeleton live if they visit Maropeng, or live on the internet. “The public will be able to participate fully in Live Science and future discoveries as they occur in real time – an unprecedented moment in palaeoanthropology,” explains Berger. “The laboratory studio will be also linked to laboratories at Wits University and the Malapa site.”
It's a museum preparator's space, with two significant twists - it will be streamed online, and other museums can put up installations with live feeds. It may prove to be an effective way to combine funding preparation work with public outreach and education.
The Maropeng Visitor Centre has a really great space with tremendous potential for increasing sophistication of exhibits and impact. I hope this does very well for them. Wits has put up a site with some video and good photos. Lee Berger's interview with the Maropeng staff is also worthwhile.
Personally, I'll be glad to see the pieces of mandible come out of the rock.