Archive | Museums

Scientists 'listen' to Paint Pigments

MONTREAL, Sept. 2 (UPI) — A new technique that can “hear” the sound of colors may help art restorers identify the pigments in centuries-old paintings, researchers say.

Canadian scientists at McGill University in Montreal say a technique called photoacoustic infrared spectroscopy can cause the pigments used in artists’ colors to emit sounds when light is shone on them, a university release said Wednesday.

“The chemical composition of pigments is important to know, because it enables museums and restorers to know how the paints will react to sunlight and temperature changes,” said Ian Butler, a professor at McGill’s Department of Chemistry.

The spectroscopy method is based on Alexander Graham Bell’s 1880 discovery that solids could emit sounds when exposed to sunlight, infrared radiation or ultraviolet radiation.

The McGill researchers are the first to use it to analyze typical inorganic pigments that most artists use.

The researchers have classified 12 historically prominent pigments by the infrared spectra they exhibit – in other words, the range of noises they produce – and hope the technique will be used to establish a pigment database.

“Once such a database has been established, the technique may become routine in the arsenal of art forensic laboratories,” Butler said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Art, Museums, Other, Radiation0 Comments

African Museum to Do DNA Test on Dodo Egg

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 27 (UPI) — A South African museum says it has the world’s last surviving dodo egg and is preparing to allow DNA testing of the precious exhibit to confirm it.

The flightless dodo became extinct in the mid-17th century after being extensively hunted in its native home of Mauritius by visiting sailors and the dogs and cats they brought on voyages with them, which plundered the birds’ nests, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

The egg was given to South Africa’s East London Museum in 1915 by the great aunt of the museums curator at the time, the British newspaper said. It was given to the aunt by a sea captain who made many trips to Mauritius where he said he found it in a swamp.

Now, the museum’s current curator has decided to test the provenance of its most-prized artifact.

Mcebisi Magadla said the test would involve breaking off a piece of egg the size of a pen point from the outside of the egg.

He said it could be tested at the University of Cape Town or further afield in Oxford, England, where Oxford University’s Natural History Museum houses the foot and head of a dodo.

“We have a duty to test the egg to prove its authenticity one way or another and the best way to do that is by DNA testing,” he said. “As a museum we cannot say something is authentic unless we can check.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Birds, Museums, Other0 Comments

Seattle Museum Campaigns for Space Shuttle

SEATTLE, Aug. 11 (UPI) — An aviation museum in Seattle wants one of the iconic space shuttles when NASA retires the three-orbiter fleet — and says it will have the space for it.

The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field is one of about 20 museums in the country competing for one of the three space shuttles scheduled to be retired by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as soon as next year, The (Olympia, Wash.) Olympian reported Wednesday.

It is not clear what selection criteria NASA will use to select permanent homes for the space shuttles but the Museum of Flight says it meets all the requirements outlined to date.

As an example, the museum says, NASA officials say candidates must have a covered structure in place by July 2011 to house a space shuttle — and the museum is breaking ground this month for its 15,500-square-foot Space Gallery.

Museum officials say they have secured $11 million of the $12 million needed for the museum expansion.

If the museum isn’t awarded a shuttle, it says, the exhibit space will still be put to good use, housing a full fuselage shuttle training module donated by NASA along with a number of other artifacts from the space program.

“We will have an exhibit plan, even if the shuttle isn’t there,” museum Executive Director Bonnie Dunbar, a former Rockwell engineer and astronaut who flew five space shuttle missions, said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Aviation, Museums, Other0 Comments

NASA Funds Science Exhibits

WASHINGTON, May 13 (UPI) — The U.S. space agency says it will fund nine educational outreach projects this year, including planetarium shows and traveling museum exhibits.

Officials said NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums will provide $7 million in grants to enhance projects related to space exploration, aeronautics, space science, Earth science and microgravity.

The 2010 grants range from approximately $177,000 to $1.25 million and have a maximum five-year performance period. The projects are located in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Utah and Washington.

“Science centers and planetariums contribute significantly to engaging people of all ages in science, technology, engineering and math,” said James Stofan, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Education. “NASA wants to give the informal education community access to a variety of agency staff and resources while offering professional development opportunities for informal science educators and encouraging the formation of collaborative partnerships.”

The selected projects are the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; the Children’s Museum of Hartford, Conn.; the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; the Louisiana Art & Science Museum; the Maryland Science Center; the Science Museum of Minnesota; the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio; Thanksgiving Point Institute in Utah; and the Pacific Science Center’s Willard Smith Planetarium in Seattle.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Art, Education, Engineering, Museums, Other0 Comments

NASA Inspects Discovery for Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 26 (UPI) — NASA inspectors were giving the shuttle Discovery a final review Friday before officially setting a launch date, expected for April 5, U.S. officials said.

The 13-day mission is one of four remaining flights planned to the International Space Station before the shuttle fleet is retired next year.

Inspectors were to check a helium isolation valve, ceramic inserts around windows and payload bay doors, Florida Today reported.

Meanwhile, New York’s Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum has asked NASA for a shuttle when Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis are retired.

“It will be a huge boon to New York’s economy and a magnet for tourists,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday.

NASA has said it intends to give the shuttles to museums where the most people could view them, The New York Daily News reported Friday.

The Intrepid museum is a military and maritime history museum. It’s collection includes the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, a submarine and a Concorde SST jet.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Museums, Other0 Comments

NASA Sponsors Water Recycling Competition

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 (UPI) — NASA says it’s inviting fifth- through eighth-grade U.S. students to take part in a water limitation management and recycling design competition.

“Participants in the competition will design and test water recycling systems that could be used for future exploration of the moon,” the space agency said in a statement. “The top three teams will receive awards, and the first place team will receive an expense-paid trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.”

Teams should consist of up to six students and one teacher or mentor, with proposals and results submitted for evaluation by Feb. 1. Schools in the United States and its territories, science museums, science centers and home school groups may host teams.

Winners will be announced in May.

Officials said the competition is designed to engage and retain students in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines critical to NASA’s missions.

Additional information is available at

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Engineering, Museums, Other, Recycling, Recycling & Waste, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Tri-Cities Washington: Environment Blossoms in Shadows of Giant Nuclear Site

If you’re into nature, it’s tough not to love the the Tri-Cities area in Washington. Peering out from the Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve to Red Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain is inspiring, if nothing else. With the Tri-Cities area beneath you, it’s tough to imagine that you’re looking out onto one of the world’s largest environmental clean-up projects.

The Tri-Cities area in Southeastern Washington includes the cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. Earlier this month, The New York Times called our attention to the area, leaving us wanting to know more about the The Hanford Reach National Monument.

In it’s name, it sounds innocent enough. But the monument consumes an environmental nightmare of sorts… the 586-square-mile Hanford Site. Administered by the United States Department of Energy, the Hanford site played a vital role in the development of the world’s first atomic bomb and produced more than half of the United States’ plutonium used in nuclear weapon production through the 1980s.

Now, the Tri-Cities area is home to renowned vineyards, golf courses and rivers – and despite the Hanford Reach National Monument, it’s population and tourism continues to grow.

Jeff Schlegel, a writer for The New York Times article referenced above profiled his journey of the Tri-Cities area and his tour of the Hanford as part of the “American Journeys” feature from the Times.

Here is an excerpt of his, describing the area surrounding the nuclear reactors:

The Hanford Reach National Monument in the arid steppe of south-central Washington is a nature lover’s dream with the Columbia River flowing wide and free below chalk-white cliffs, an abundance of birds, and populations of deer, elk and coyotes…

…The Hanford Reach National Monument, which on a map looks like a crab’s claw clutching the Hanford Site, was left untouched because it was a buffer zone. Recreational activities here include hunting, fishing, hiking and boating, but the park’s Web site warns, “Visitors should be prepared for minimal signing and primitive facilities.”

For now the best way to explore the monument is by boat. Our jet boat tour left the Richland waterfront and whizzed upriver. We stopped to marvel as American white pelicans floated in the air with their nine-foot wingspans. Deer, coyotes and a porcupine in a tree were spotted on the Columbia’s left bank, which is Hanford Site property.

“Plants and insects are found here that don’t exist anywhere else,” said the boat’s captain, Ray Hamilton. “And, no, they aren’t mutations.”

Wildlife and Ecotourism of the Columbia River
If you’re looking for a historical vacation filled with natural beauty and opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors – Tri-Cities Washington and the Columbia River may be an excellent choice for you.

m2s photo
The Columbia River, by Matt McGee (pleeker on Flickr)
Used under Creative Commons License

The area is rich in opportunities for hikers, kayakers and nature enthusiasts. In fact, here’s a list of what we’ve been able to discover about the region…

There is a wealth of native trees to the area. One great place to get started is the Yakima Area Arboretum who catalogs their list of trees here. Other native trees of Eastern Washington include:

  • Black Cottonwood trees
  • Interior Douglas Firs
  • Netleaf Hackberry Trees
  • Oregon White Oaks
  • Ponderosa Pines
  • Quaking Aspens
  • Water Birch Trees
  • Western Larches

While we weren’t able to find any zoos in the area, many web sites indlucing the Audobon Society helped us to create a list of native wildlife to the area which include:

  • Black Bear
  • Bushy-Tailed Woodrat
  • California Bighorn Sheep
  • Columbian Ground Squirrel
  • Deer
  • Eastern Washington Coyote
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Nuttall’s Cottontail Rabbit
  • Pacific Tree Frog
  • Side-Blotched Lizard
  • Western Fence Lizard
  • Western Toad
  • Yellow Pine Chipmunk
  • Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Trails, Museums and Expeditions
If you’re looking to head out on foot or paddle the Columbia River or its many tributaries, there are many options for you. The Tri Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau lists out the following options for those looking to learn more about the area’s heritage and ecotourism:

  • Friends of Our Trail
  • Hanford Reach National Monument
  • Historical Presentations
  • Lewis & Clark Attractions
  • Lewis & Clark report
  • Museums & Interpretive Centers
  • Sacagawea Heritage Trail
  • Sacajawea Park Report
  • Sacajawea Report
  • Sokulk Report
  • The Reading Room

Finally, if you’re thinking about kayaking around the Tri-Cities area, look no further than Columbia Kayak Adventures who offers us this information:

There are many locations one can put a kayak in the water near Richland, Kennewick and Pasco. North Richland launches are great for paddling upriver and around the many islands that make up McNary Wildlife Refuge. There are often populated heron rookeries on some of these, plus lots of other birdlife to view.

To paddle around the Yakima Delta, launch on either the east (Marina side) or west of Bateman Island. The delta is an area of islands, channels and wildlife – dear, beaver, herons, hawk and many more can be seen here. The east launch gives access to the west side of Bateman, or you can go up the Yakima into the Chamna area.
Other nearby areas to explore are off any of the riverfront parks, Clover Island, and Yakima River.

The following is a list of launch sites:

    Near Town:

  • Bateman Island: Launch west of Bateman Island for easy access to Yakima Delta; launch east at Marina to go around Bateman into Delta, up or down the Columbia.
  • Leslie Groves: Launch just south of beach area; north or south are good access to Nelson, Gull, and many more islands.
  • Saint Street Dock: Go upriver to go around islands.
  • Above WSU-Tri Cities – Off 1st Street & Waterfront Drive
  • Yakima – Twin Bridges, Van Giesen St.
  • Chiawana Park
  • Clover Island
    Put-Ins (Easy Day Trips):

  • McNary Wildlife Refuge – Off Hwy 12
  • Walla Walla River Delta
  • Snake – Charbonneau Rec Area, Levey Park
  • Hanford Reach
  • Potholes
  • Lake Roosevelt
  • Umatilla Wildlife Refuge

For more information on the Tri-Cities area, please see the following resources:
Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau
City of Kennewick
City of Pasco
City of Richland

Posted in Ecotourism, Museums, Nature & Ecosystems, Nuclear, Other1 Comment

Aptera-Wingless Flight

San Diego is an urban paradise. Temperatures are always comfortable, the sun shines most days of the year, and locals can spend any day enjoying their time at beaches, museums, zoos, stadiums or any number of shows that occur there. The San Diego Convention center is always booked with events ranging from tech conferences to bridal bazaars and the world renowned International Comic Convention.

Traffic can get out of hand in such a popular place, and paradise isn’t so pretty when seen from the inside of your car in 90 degree weather. The answer to this dilemna lies with smaller electric vehicles that allow drivers to safely speed by traffic with the use of the carpool lane.

Just north of San Diego, sits Aptera, a small company of 15 engineers and fabricators who have produced a sleek, 3 wheel hybrid vehicle of the future. CEO Steve Fambro dreamt up the idea of a safe, fuel-efficient vehicle 5 years ago, when he himself had to deal with the San Diego traffic. His futuristic vehicle design is fundamentally based on aerodynamics (hence the look of a small plane) and environmentally friendly engineering.
post resumes below image

The amazingly futuristic Aptera Typ-1. When will we see these on the roads?
(Photo: Aptera)

According to Aptera, “What emerged, after much designing, conceptualizing, and constructing, was a prototype two-seat, three-wheeled vehicle. This first operating prototype achieved a stunning 230 miles per gallon, Building on this success, Steve expanded his Aptera team and created the Aptera Typ-1, which has been re-designed, re-engineered, and refined into a production ready vehicle. We are excited to announce that the Aptera Typ-1 is now available for reservations.”

$30,000 is the expected price-tag for one of these vehicles, which makes them relatively affordable. This electric car is no weakling either: the production model went from 0-60 in under 10 seconds and reached speeds of 85mph without any problems. This little car also has a range of around 150miles between charges, which is plenty for the average daily commute. Solar panels on the roof provide added energy to run to the air-conditioning that keeps the vehicle at a comfortable temperature, even when it is just sitting in a parking lot. The only bad news is that the cars will only be available in California at first

The Aptera is technically classified as a motorcycle, but is a much safer option. The company made an extra effort to exceed the minimum safety requirements, especially because of the publics’ attitude towards motorcycle dangers: the roof can withstand the pressure from rolling over, the doors exceed the necessary strength requirements, the car boasts airbag in seatbelt technology and the frame is designed to take a large impact and redirect the energy around the passenger and driver.

Aptera means “wingless flight” in Greek, and even if the owners of the sleek, white car don’t feel like they are flying, pedestrians will eye the Aptera like something that just arrived from outer space.

Posted in Cars, Energy, Engineering, Museums, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Transportation10 Comments

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