EduNews Summer 2006

Mark Twain would be happy to know that the fog has returned to San Francisco. Record-breaking heat in mid-July found many of us who don't have air-conditioned homes wishing for fog. We got our wish.

Contents

1 - EXTREMOPHILES IN KAMCHATKA
2 - IRON SCIENCE TEACHER
3 - TRY THIS: YOUR AGE ON OTHER WORLDS
4 - EXPLORATORIUM MAGAZINE: LANGUAGE
5 - ANCIENT WRITINGS REVEALED!
6 - AT THE MUSEUM: TACTILE DOME

1 - EXTREMOPHILES IN KAMCHATKA
http://www.exploratorium.edu/kamchatka/index.html
Microbes that live in seemingly unlivable environments such as Antarctic ice and the hot hydrothermal vents of the ocean are called extremophiles. On the Kamchatka peninsula in Eastern Siberia, in a collapsed volcano called the Uzon Caldera, the steaming hot springs of the Kamchatka Microbial Observatory are a natural laboratory for studying extremophiles. Scientists from different disciplines gather in this remote and undeveloped volcanic valley to study the tiny life forms and their environment, which may be a fair approximation of the early earth. Studying these microbes may let scientists look back to the dawn of life on Earth--and perhaps to the development of life on other planets as well.

View slide shows and videos of the microbes and the scientists at work. Find out how to build your own bacterial garden.

2 - IRON SCIENCE TEACHER
http://www.exploratorium.edu/iron_science/
Tune in for the next live Webcast in this popular series, or come to the Exploratorium to cheer on the competitors in person. Parodying the cult Japanese TV program "Iron Chef," science teachers devise demonstrations and activities based on a particular ingredient such as milk cartons, rocks, golf balls, or sticky tape. Can't watch it live? View the archives for enjoyment and inspiration.

3 - TRY THIS: YOUR AGE ON OTHER WORLDS
http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/age/index.html
Want to melt those years away? Travel to an outer planet. Want to add a few years? Travel to an inner planet. So why would we age differently on another planet? Gravity has something to do with it. Find out more and use the age calculator to discover the range of ages you could be on other worlds.

4 - EXPLORATORIUM MAGAZINE: LANGUAGE
http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/language/index.html
Where do languages come from? Learn about the origins and development of language. Hear from linguist Merritt Ruhlen how language is studied and classified. Examine words from different languages to learn how they are related, and become a word historian.

5 - ANCIENT WRITINGS REVEALED!
http://www.exploratorium.edu/archimedes/index.html
Recently, we watched ancient text revealed and read for the first time in a thousand years! Archimedes was one of the world's greatest scientific and mathematical minds. His thoughts were inscribed on goatskin parchment, but the letters and diagrams were scraped off and written over by Greek monks in the Middle Ages. Now, using an intense x-ray beam generated at Stanford University's linear accelerator, some of the original Greek text was revealed for the first time in the modern world.

6 - AT THE MUSEUM: TACTILE DOME
http://www.exploratorium.edu/visit/tactile_dome/press_release.html
The Tactile Dome is a geodesic dome about the size of a large weather balloon that you explore in total darkness. For 75 minutes, you feel, bump, slide, and crawl through and past hundreds of materials that have a huge range of shapes, temperatures, and textures. The idea behind this interactive excursion is to make visitors aware of how complex, sensitive, and underappreciated the sense of touch is.

The artist who created the dome, Richard Register, said this about his creation:
"The Tactile [Dome] draws your body in like the Mother Earth herself, pulling you back through evolutionary time and vague fears of death, opening an inner perspective, a magic theater pouring through the mind from places unknown. If you don't believe me, you've probably never been there, because this place is a powerful experience, a reality/imagination trip that leaves few people unshaken."

Those who have experienced the Tactile Dome describe it in many ways:
"It's like seeing with your hands."
"Very odd & exciting. Great, excellent. WEIRD."
"Sheer fun--surprise mixed with pleasure of discovery and some brief elements of fear."
"Exciting and mysterious, unusual."

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