Imagine a mirror as wide as a football field at the South Pole of the Moon. Instead of polished glass, its surface is made of a reflective liquid, which spins in a circle.
Scientists hope to make this vision into a reality one day by using a liquid mirror to build a giant lunar telescope that would allow astronomers to see farther into the universe than ever before. In the Museum’s special exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, visitors can see two liquid mirror telescopes: one featured as part of a Moonscape diorama, the other, an interactive model that can be operated with the push of a button.
In the horror-film genre “nature gone wild,” masses of murderous insects and animals are a staple, from the hornets in Swarmed to cockroaches in They Crawl, killer worms in Squirmto rats in Willard, and, of course, the birds in, well, The Birds. But can anything be more chilling than the real thing?
Fifteen-year-old Sara knew that vegetable oils could be used as biofuels. But when she learned that algae might offer an alternative fuel source, she decided to learn more about these organisms’ potential to supply energy without using precious crop land.
Surveying gaps in current research, Sara decided to explore how growing conditions of algae might affect their oil yields. Sara received a 2011 Young Naturalist Award for her experiment, which she describes in her essay Enhancing Algae Biofuels: The Effects of Nitrogen Limitation and Carbon Dioxide Infusion on Nannochloropsis oculata.
Museum scientists John Sparks and David Gruber have traveled the world in search of bioluminescent and biofluorescent organisms. On Wednesday, November 2, at 7 pm, the pair will host November’s SciCafe, Alive and Glowing: Adventures in Bioluminescence and Biofluorescence, and shed light on the way these phenomena have appeared throughout the tree of life. Dr. Sparks will also curate the Museum’s upcoming special exhibition Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence, which opens March 31. Below, Sparks and Gruber answer a few questions about their enlightening research.