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Behind the Scenes: Keeping It Current

On Exhibit posts

Curator John Sparks is blogging weekly about the upcoming exhibition, Creatures of Light, which opens on Saturday, March 31.

One of the most exciting, yet challenging, things about this exhibition is that we have been able to incorporate so much current research. Many of the images and results visitors will see are the subject of ongoing research projects by me and a number of collaborators.

Tags: Bioluminescence

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Zach Baldwin on How Ponyfishes and Flashlight Fishes Shine

On Exhibit posts

Curator John Sparks is blogging weekly about the upcoming exhibition, Creatures of Light, which opens on Saturday, March 31. This week, he invited Zach Baldwin, a Ph.D. student at the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School who works in the Department of Ichthyology and who consulted on the exhibition, to contribute the guest post below.

A common misconception about bioluminescent fishes is that they all live in the perpetual darkness of the deep sea. In truth, one of the most fascinating aspects of bioluminescence is the diversity of organisms and environments in which the phenomenon is known to occur. There are bioluminescent fishes occurring on coral reefs, in estuaries, and even in the rocky intertidal zone along coastlines. Approximately 100 species in nine families of fishes that live in shallow marine waters are known to luminesce.

Tags: Bioluminescence

The Re-making of Mars: Terraforming Table

On Exhibit posts

The scent of evergreens, stones covered in moss, and the hum of rushing water are familiar features in many forests on Earth. But could these also describe a future landscape on Mars?

Once a staple of science fiction, terraforming—or making a planet more like Earth—is now being studied as a real possibility, as scientists research how to apply knowledge of evolution, climate, and technology to re-create the blue planet’s environment on the red planet. Visitors can learn firsthand how humans might make Mars habitable with a custom, multi-user touch table featured in the Museum’s exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, NASA

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David Gruber on Microscopic Glowing Aliens Friday, March 02 9:18 am

On Exhibit posts

Curator John Sparks is blogging weekly about the upcoming exhibition, Creatures of Light, which opens on Saturday, March 31. This week, he invited marine biologist David Gruber, an assistant professor at The City University of New York (CUNY) and a Museum research associate who consulted on the exhibition, to contribute the guest post below.

Imagine a group of single-celled animals smaller than the width of a human hair that possess 25 times the amount of DNA as humans. These organisms both bask in the sun to obtain energy, like plants, and actively hunt, like animals, even slurping out the insides of other cells. They include some of the fastest speed demons of the microscopic domain, propelling themselves up to 200-500 μm/second—the equivalent to a 6-foot Olympian athlete swimming at 40 mph. On top of these feats, a few members are responsible for creating the nighttime sparkle on breaking surf.

Tags: Bioluminescence

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Behind the Scenes of Creatures of Light

On Exhibit posts

Curator John Sparks will be blogging weekly about the upcoming exhibition, Creatures of Light, which opens on Saturday, March 31.

In just a little over a month, on March 31, the American Museum of Natural History will open our latest exhibition, Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence,which focuses on the amazing diversity of organisms that produce light across every conceivable habitat. Every exhibition we produce is a collaboration between the Museum’s research scientists and the exhibition team, which includes writers, designers, artists, and media specialists. I’m the curator for this exhibition, which means that I oversee the scientific content and bring expertise from my research—in this case, on the evolution of bioluminescent signaling systems in marine fishes.We’re hard at work on the show this month, and I’ll be writing weekly posts from behind the scenes to offer some glimpses of what goes into producing a major exhibition. Here’s my first dispatch:

Tags: Bioluminescence

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