Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth
The David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, located in the Rose Center for Earth and Space, displays an outstanding collection of geological specimens from around the world to show how our planet works. The hall is organized around five major questions: How has the Earth evolved? Why are there ocean basins, continents, and mountains? How do we read rocks? What causes climate and climate change? Why is the Earth habitable?
The hall features 168 rock specimens, many of which can be touched, and 11 full-scale models of classic outcrops chosen to illustrate an important aspect of Earth’s dynamic story. Interactive exhibits let visitors explore geologic time, peer into the planet’s depths, and understand the scientific methods used to study it. The regularly updated Earth Bulletin highlights important topics in Earth science.
Featured specimens come from nearly all corners of the globe and include pure sulfur formed in an Indonesian volcano, a fossil stromatolite from the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, and a rock from New York City’s Central Park. The hall’s oldest specimen is a zircon crystal from Australia that formed about 4.3 billion years ago, only 200 million years after Earth itself.
The continental crust contains the historical record of our planet. Its most ancient rocks are four billion years old, and the youngest ones are still forming today.
Over millions of years, ocean basins open and close, continents move and change shape, and mountains are pushed up and eroded away.
How has the Earth evolved? Why are there ocean basins, continents, and mountains?
Weather is the state of the atmosphere in a region over days and weeks, while climate is the average state of the weather over the longer term – decades, centuries, and millennia.
It is the right distance from the Sun, it is protected from harmful solar radiation by its magnetic field, it is kept warm by an insulating atmosphere, and it has the right chemical ingredients for life, including water and carbon.
The half globe above shows a changing image of the Earth as seen from space. As the Earth rotates, clouds are removed to reveal its oceans and continents.