Posts Tagged ‘exploring2010’

The Laboratory on the Ocean Floor

Monday, April 19th, 2010

We’ve mentioned before that Smithsonian scientists love studying extremes. But how about living in extreme conditions? To study the bottom of the ocean properly, you would actually have to live down there.

What do you eat? How do make your meals? Where do you get fresh water? Just as astronauts have made adjustments to their lifestyles while they are in space, scientists studying the ocean are pretty adaptable as well.

Paula Lemyre, reporting from Smithsonian Channel’s SciQ, visited the ocean floor (63 feet down) and had 30 minutes to interview and record this story. Any more time on the bottom, and Paula and her crew would face a very painful experience called “the bends” due to the reduction in pressure as they returned to sea level. Also known as decompression sickness, during the bends the body releases dissolved gas (mostly nitrogen) from the tissues and blood. As a result, bubbles are created within the circulation system and create disruptions throughout the human body. Symptoms can range from mild, dull toothache-like pain to the more serious including shock and seizures. Luckily, today we know the gradual ascension steps to avoid these kinds of situations.

Learn more about living underwater on the Smithsonian Channel’s SciQ.

Experience the Ocean Hall at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Would you want to live underwater? Share Below.

Where Were You During the Inauguration?

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Those of us who live in Washington, D.C. can state for a fact 2009′s Inauguration Day was a very cold one indeed. Compared to President Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration in 1981 when it was 55 degrees at noon, the Obama ceremony was shockingly cold at 28 degrees with a windchill of 11 at the time of his swearing-in.

But you never would have thought that looking at First Lady Michelle Obama. As millions watched on the National Mall, online, and on television sets around the world, she stood in her lemongrass-colored ensemble (designed by Cuban-American Isabel Toledo) throughout the day as if it weren’t freezing cold out there. Later that night, she changed into the gown created by 27-year-old designer Jason Wu and made her way around Washington, dancing at various balls into the wee hours.

So, where is the Jason Wu gown now? It’s in the National Museum of American History, along with other gowns donated by Mamie Eisenhower,  Jacqueline Kennedy, and Barbara Bush.

And for the record, the First Lady was fully aware of how cold it was on that night.

Get a behind-the-scenes experience on our Destination Smithsonian  programs, where you and your family will get up close and personal with objects in the Smithsonian’s various collections.

Where were you during the Inauguration Night? Share below.

Photo: Exploring Extremes

Monday, March 15th, 2010
Earth from Apollo 17. NASA Image #AS17-148-22727

Earth from Apollo 17. NASA Image #AS17-148-22727

Scientists at the Smithsonian love to study extremes. From animals to space travel, we love learning about the biggest, fastest, largest, and highest. Most of us started learning quirky science facts when we were kids and our fascination never went away. That’s why we’ve  introduced our new Destination Smithsonian!: Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space for families with kids ages 9 -12. In case you need to inspire your little scientist, here are five fun facts you can share when you are visiting the National Air and Space Museum.

1. Applesauce was the first food ever eaten by an American astronaut in space. John Glenn ate the yummy snack from an aluminum tube during the Mercury mission in 1962. Today, the astronauts have a pantry-style food system on the International Space Station with foods labeled in Russian and English.

2. Astronauts orbiting Earth see up to 16 sunrises and sunsets every day- one about every 90 minutes.

3. From Earth you always look at the same side of the moon. In 1959, the Soviet Union sent a spacecraft called Luna 3 around the side of the moon that faces away from Earth and took the first photographs.

4. Astronauts’ footprints stay on the moon forever because there is no wind to blow them away. This means Neil Armstrong’s “One Small Step” is still there along with a 2-foot wide panel studded with 100 mirrors pointing at Earth: the “lunar laser ranging retroreflector array.” Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong put it there on July 21, 1969, about an hour before the end of their final moonwalk. Thirty-five years later, it’s the only Apollo science experiment still running.

5. On Jupiter, there is a hurricane that was discovered in the early 17th century, and it’s still going! Since there is no land mass to slow it down, the energy continues to churn in the atmosphere, forcing the “Great Red Spot” to keep spinning for many years to come.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Check out our NEW family package Destination Smithsonian!: Exploring Extremes: From Ocean Floor to Outer Space this summer in Washington, DC!

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Kids will make plenty of new friends at Destination Smithsonian. Photo: Smithsonian Associates

Kids will make plenty of new friends at Destination Smithsonian. Photo: Smithsonian Associates

 At some point, every child has to write an essay on what they did during their summer vacation. What will your child say? This year, we are introducing Destination Smithsonian - vacation packages that bring families to Washington, DC. Both parents and kids have a unique chance to explore the museums at their own pace. In the morning, kids ages 9 through 12 have a great time during hands-on workshops led by top educators while parents explore the Smithsonian independently. After lunch, families explore the museums together with our Smithsonian experts. Imagine the dinner table conversations at the end of that day!

Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space is a unique opportunity to explore some of our iconic objects in our museums, such as our Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History and Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega at the National Air and Space Museum. Kids can visit our famous Giant Pandas, Mei Xian and Tian Tian, at the National Zoo. But families also have the extraordinary opportunity to see nature at work at our lesser known Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland. Here, kids will become scientists while learning about our treasured Chesapeake Bay.

Every child should have the chance to experience our nation’s capital, and doing it with Smithsonian creates an experience that families will treasure long after summer’s over.

Learn more about Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space.

How old were you when you first visited the Smithsonian Institution?