Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies
Through June 24, 2013
Through June 24, 2013
Whether Museum scientists are studying parasites, people, or planets in other solarsystems, cutting-edge imaging technologies such as infrared photography, scanning electron microscopes, and CT scanners now make it possible to examine details that were previously unobservable. This exhibition, curated by Mark Siddall, curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, features more than 20 sets of large-format images that showcase the wide range of research being conducted at the Museum as well as how various optical tools are used in scientific studies
Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies, an exhibition of more than 20 sets of striking large-format prints, showcases advanced imaging technologies used by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History
Large-format images showcasing a wide range of Museum research.
June 25, 2011 - June 24, 2013
Each of the 41 intriguing images in Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies tells a fascinating story about research or conservation projects. Here’s the last in a series of four snapshots.
New imaging technologies have revolutionized the age-old scientific tasks of observation and classification. And for James Carpenter, a curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, they’ve opened up a new way of seeing.
Dr. Carpenter is tracing the ancestry of various wasps, which he does by examining the insects’ physical features to identify them and place them in their evolutionary context. His lab’s current project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to reconstruct the phylogeny, or evolutionary history, of Vespinae, a subfamily of wasps consisting of hornets and yellowjackets.
Carpenter’s methods include photomontage—essentially digital photography—which allows him to stack images to focus on specific features. A head shot of a German wasp, part of the ongoing exhibition Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies now on view in the Akeley Gallery and curated by Mark Siddall, uses this technique to bring selected areas into sharp focus. These snapshots enable Carpenter to place the insect in the tree of life.
His lab also uses a variety of high-tech microscopes, including an environmental scanning electron microscope. This instrument highlights minuscule features without destroying the specimen, as often happened with earlier versions of the technology. Once Carpenter has the traits, he plugs the data into a computer program that synthesizes them at rapid speed.
Free With Museum Admission