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SEM Scanning Electron Microscope Goblin Spider

Seeking Out Spiders

News posts

The Museum is home to the largest collection of spiders in the world, one that is still growing through the fieldwork of scientists such as Norman Platnick, Curator Emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. Platnick, who has discovered and described more than 1,600 new spider species, says there are many more to find.

“Collections are the only way we can document the plants and animals with which we share this planet,” says Platnick. “For groups that are as poorly known as spiders, there are many areas in the world where they have not been collected at all.”

One of his recent collecting efforts, in late 2010, took Platnick and his team on a month-long expedition into the cloud forests of northeastern Ecuador. Science Bulletins, the Museum’s multimedia program that covers current science, followed the researchers as they worked day and night seeking out spiders from the forest floor to the high canopy.

Tags: Science Bulletins, Spiders

Science Bulletins Explores a Chronology of Climate Change

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Analysis of Earth's geologic record can reveal how the climate has changed over time. As profiled in the Science Bulletin below, scientists in New Zealand are examining samples from the rocky landscape once dominated by glaciers and employing a new technique called surface exposure dating, which uses chemical analysis to determine how long minerals within rocks have been exposed to the air since the glaciers around them melted. Comparisons of this data with other climate records have revealed a link between glacial retreat and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the air, findings that are informing scientists' understanding of global climate change today. 


Tags: Science Bulletins

First Comes the Dream Crop

Neil Tyson Speaks at First Comes the Dream

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What inspires scientists and innovators? On July 19, First Comes the Dream, a celebration of New York City’s emergence as a premier technology center, brought luminaries from science, technology, and media to the Museum to find out.

Co-hosted by the Museum with leading tech blog Gizmodo and social networking app Foursquare, the evening began in the Hayden Planetarium with remarks from Museum President Ellen Futter, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and New York City Deputy Mayor Robert Steel before launching the awe-struck audience on a tour of the universe with the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart.

Next, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Museum’s Hayden Planetarium, sat down for an interview with iO9’s Annalee Newitz in the Cullman Hall of the Universe. In the video below, find out what sparked Dr. Tyson’s interest in astronomy and what he thinks the future of space exploration might hold.


Tags: Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson

What Was It: Questions for Michael Novacek

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Have a question for a paleontologist? On July 18, head over to leading technology blog Gizmodo at 1:30 pm for a chance to ask the Museum’s Provost of Science Michael Novacek what led him to become interested in his field, and anything else you wanted to know about paleontology but were afraid to ask.

Nearly 20 years ago, Dr. Novacek was one of the discoverers of the Gobi Desert’s Ukhaa Tolgod, the richest Cretaceous fossil vertebrate site in the world. He has also led paleontological expeditions to Baja California, Mexico; the Andes Mountains of Chile; and the Yemen Arab Republic in search of fossil mammals and dinosaurs.

Earlier this month, blogs Gizmodo and iO9 launched What Was It, is a series of short interviews that asks the luminaries of science and technology what inspired them. Read interviews with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, and astronaut Mae Jemison, then join the conversation with Dr. Novacek on July 18 at Gizmodo.com.

Tags: Our Research

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