Charles Darwin in the Smithsonian’s Deep Time fossil hall

Over the Thanksgiving break, my wife and son took a trip to Washington, DC. Among the many, many places they visited was the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. There they got to see the museum’s new Deep Time fossil hall, and they sent me these photos of the Charles Darwin quote and young Darwin statue that fit so prominently in the exhibit. The quote is the last line of On the Origin of Species – “From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved” – and the statue depicts Darwin writing in a notebook, showing his “I think” tree of life sketch.

Darwin statue at NMNH in DC

2019-11-28.jpg

Other views of the statue, and information regarding the time capsule that was placed underneath it, at the following links: Smithsonian, Washington Post, 1a.org, and Washington Post again.

Why Pigeons Matter exhibit at the Utah Museum of Natural History

The exhibit runs September 19, 2014 through January 3, 2016.

News article: Exhibit Puts Darwin Insights On Display

And here are two other short videos about Darwin and pigeons for your enjoyment:

Exhibit near Portland: “Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe”

Portland area friends, an exhibit about the Hubble Space Telescope, “New Views of the Universe,” will be open this Saturday, November 17 at the Hillsboro Civic Center in Hillsboro, through May.

How did the universe begin? How big is it? What is it made of? What is its ultimate fate? These are some of the questions that scientists have been investigating with the Hubble Space Telescope since its launch in 1990. Not only is Hubble providing us with an unprecedented amount of information about the universe, its breathtaking images—disseminated in the press and over the Internet—have excited more people around the world than any other images in the last decade.

This exciting exhibit makes it possible to see and understand the extraordinary discoveries made by the Hubble Space Telescope. A model Hubble telescope will be on view along with hands-on activities about how the telescope works.

The exhibit also includes several games, infrared light technology and spectacular backlit color images of planets, galaxies, black holes, and many other fascinating cosmic entities captured by Hubble.

On opening day, November 17 at 2 p.m., NASA speaker, Russell L. Werneth, an aerospace engineer at the Goddard Space Flight Center, will give a special lecture. Werneth was the Extravehicular Activity Manager for the Hubble Space Telescope Project who trained astronauts on telescope repair techniques during spacewalks.

Starting November 17, Washington County Museum will be open Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free to members, $6 for adults and $4 for children. Children age 3 and under are free. The Hillsboro Civic Center is located at 150 E Main Street, Hillsboro, OR 97123 and located at the Hatfield Government Center MAX Station Stop (Blue line). For more information, call 503.645.5353 or visit www.washingtoncountymuseum.org.

Hopefully I can get Patrick out there sometime between now and May to check it out!

My Darwin talk at OHSU, April 4th

Guest Lecture

Perhaps I should let folks here know that I will be giving a talk at the Oregon Health & Sciences University here in Portland on Wednesday, April 4th, at 12:30pm in the Old Library Auditorium. It will be for a reception to the small exhibit now on display in the OHSU Library, Rewriting the Book of Nature (see my post here).

Darwin Exhibit

My talk will be “Charles Darwin: Myth vs. History,” an overview of myths about Darwin and corrections of them. I will talk about both what I think are unintentionally created myths (events or characteristics that find their way into popular history, science textbooks, etc.) and those that are indeed intentional, and meant to smeer the reputation of a historical character (mainly, creationist misuse of history).

Reception at 12:00, my talk at 12:30, free and open to the public!

“Rewriting the Book of Nature” Darwin exhibit at OHSU Library

The National Library of Medicine’s small panel exhibit about Darwin is now open at the library of the Oregon Health & Sciences University, here in Portland, until April 21st. Four panels of images and text constitute Rewriting the Book of Nature: Charles Darwin and the Rise of Evolutionary Theory (brochure). Patrick and I went up to OHSU on Tuesday to take a look, but also to meet with the archivist there to discuss a talk I am going to give on April 4th at a noon reception for the exhibit – my first invited talk! I’ll share more details later about the talk, but for now here are pictures of the exhibit:

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

"Rewriting the Book of Nature" (Darwin exhibit) at OHSU Library

A visceral experience: “Body Worlds & the Brain” at OMSI, Portland, OR

Yesterday I headed to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, sans wife and child, to see the exhibit Body Worlds & the Brain (which opened on October 20th for a limited engagement). From Gunther von Hagens, the exhibit “includes more than 200 authentic human specimens and highlights neuroscience, brain development and performance. Through respectful, aesthetic displays, this all-new exhibition invites intensive study and profound reflection on the power, beauty, and fragility of the human body” (more info). The displays are shown along with large text panels discussing many aspects of being human, from anatomy and development to intelligence  and emotions.

I have always wanted to see one of these exhibits of plastinated cadavers, as I have heard from other people about what they liked about it or did not. Given that the bodies are obtained from individuals knowingly providing themselves for these artistic and didactic displays, there is not much I can complain about (much effort is made in getting this point across in the exhibit). Body Worlds is simply wondrous. My initial impression is amazement, but I am sure over the next few weeks I will think about certain aspects of the exhibit (I should see if the Portland libraries have this book: The Anatomy of Body Worlds: Critical Essays on the Plastinated Cadavers of Gunther von Hagens).

One text panel had the following words, which I think sums up such an endeavor: “The creative process generates the new by seeing the known in an unusual way. It is founded on a sense of wonder and fed by the ability to pursue an idea simply to satisfy our curiosity.” A truly visceral experience. I highly encourage folks in the Portland region to visit OMSI and peruse Body Worlds, especially the dynamic poses of many of the bodies and the various organs shown in stages of disease. How often does one get the opportunity to get so close and personal to what is – and could be – inside all of us?

Enjoy the photos, which I was given permission to take and post for media purposes.

Body Worlds & the Brain at OMSI (November 6, 2011)

Sagittal 3-D Slice Body (1999)

Close-up of Sagittal 3-D Slice Body (1999)

The Angel (2005)

The Digestive System

Blood vessel configuration of the arm

The Ponderer (2005)

The Ponderer (2005), showing the brain and spinal column

Elegance on Ice (2005)

The Ringman (2002)

A plastinated giraffe (2008), which made me think of what a project it must be to pack and ship these exhibits around the world

Interior of Giraffe (2008)

The Yoga Lady (2005)

Skull and brain of an infant

Lungs of a smoker

Sitting Ligament Body (2008)

Expanded skull

The human brain

Blood vessel configuration of a lamb

Obesity Revealed

OMSI visitors observing The Head-Diver (2006)

Another view of Giraffe (2008)

Keen observer

After Patrick and I played at Sand in the City in downtown Portland this morning, we headed over to the Central Library, the main branch of the city’s library system. On the first floor there was a display about ants:

Ant display, Central Library, Portland

Ant display, Central Library, Portland

After we looked at the display and started walking away, Patrick said he saw a real ant in the case. I told him that they were fake ants, but he insisted he saw a real ant, and dragged me back to the case. Lo and behold, a real ant:

Real ant on display, Central Library, Portland

Real ant on display, Central Library, Portland

We shared this discovery with a library worker nearby, and she went and shared it with her supervisor, whom laughed quite loud, for a library.

E.O. Wilson would be proud!