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May 11: The Buzz on Beekeeping

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Entomologist Gene Kritsky, author of The Quest for the Perfect Hive: A History of Innovation in Bee Culture, will join beekeepers Richard Blohm and Carl Flatow for a discussion about urban beekeeping at this month’s Adventures in the Global Kitchen on Wednesday, May 11. He recently answered some questions about apiculture.

What is the earliest historic record of beekeeping, and where did it originate?The earliest historic record of beekeeping is from the Fifth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt.  This relief, which is in the Neues Museum in Berlin, shows the taking of honey from horizontal hives, extracting the honey from the wax, and sealing in jars.

The oldest known beehives date from 900 BCE and were found in the ancient city of Rehov in Israel.

What significant innovation vastly improved beekeeping?

The most important innovation in beekeeping was the incorporation of the “bee space” in hive design. The “bee space” is the space that is too far apart for bees to glue shut, but too narrow for them to bridge with comb. This design permitted the development of a hive with moveable frames, which led to significant increases in honey production per hive.

Tags: Food

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Podcast: SciCafe: Robots Inspired by Nature and Beyond

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In the world of cutting-edge robot design, scientists are looking to biology and nature for inspiration. In this podcast, join Professor Dennis Hong, director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech, as he describes some of his more fantastic robots. 

The talk was recorded at the Museum on April 6, 2011.

Podcast: Download | RSS | iTunes ( 57 mins, 69 MB)

Tags: Podcasts, SciCafe

Carnegie Observatories’ Wendy Freedman On Hubble and Size of Universe

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This spring, Director of the Carnegie Observatories Wendy Freedman spoke at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium about astronomer Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the galaxies and the expansion of the universe, how astronomers measure vast distances, and how the Hubble Space Telescope is used to measure the size and age of the universe. Mike Shara, curator in the Department of Astrophysics, sat down with Freedman for an interview in the Hayden Planetarium to discuss the expansion of the universe, dark matter, and building the 25-meter telescope.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, Space Exploration

Mouse-opossum

Minute Marsupial: Zeledon’s Mouse Opossum

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Small enough to climb onto the inflorescence, or flower cluster, of a palm plant, this tiny mouse opossum belongs to a newly re-classified South American species: Zeledon’s mouse opossum (Marmosa zeledoni). Minute marsupials like this one are rarely seen at flowers, but this species may be a pollinator for some neotropical palms.

Zeledon’s mouse opossum was previously lumped together with the Mexican mouse opossum, Marmosa mexicanaBut in a recent study partly funded by the National Science Foundation, Curator Rob Voss of the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History and colleagues examined roughly 1,500 mouse opossum specimens, some collected from as far back as the 1800s. They determined that what had been known as the Mexican mouse opossum could actually be subdivided into two different species.

Tags: Mammals, Our Research

jdwgreenland

May 4 SciCafe: The Race for Rare Earths and Other Metals

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Cell phones, hybrid cars, missile defense systems — and many other modern technologies — depend on components that include elements known collectively as rare earth metals. At the next SciCafe on Wednesday, May 4, Curator James Webster of the Museum’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences will be discussing these elements’ properties as well as the pressing issues of supply and sustainability. Dr. Webster recently answered a few questions about the topic.

What are rare earth metals?

It depends on who you ask. To many, the rare earth metals are 17 of the heavier known elements that exhibit similar but unique chemical, magnetic, optical, and electrical properties. They are silver to gray in color, relatively soft, chemically reactive, exhibit high melting temperatures, and are crucial to many modern technologies. But these metals have been mischaracterized and are incorrectly named. Most of the rare earth metals are simply not that rare: they are actually more abundant in the crust of our planet than metals like silver and lead.

Tags: SciCafe

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