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Frost Science

FaviconTop 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sharks 25 Jul 2018, 7:07 pm

© Zach Ransom Photography

Gazing up through the 31-foot oculus lens into the Gulf Stream Aquarium gives you an unmatched view of one of the world’s most powerful ocean currents on the planet, home to one of the ocean’s apex predators: sharks.

In honor of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week celebrating 30 years on air, we’re counting down our top five favorite shark facts. Our very own Andy Dehart, Vice President of Animal Husbandry and Marine Conversation, is a shark expert and has been featured in numerous Shark Week productions on the Discovery Channel as a Shark Advisor.

Count ‘em Out

There are over 400 species of sharks in the world. Sounds like a lot? Well, there’s nine different species of hammerheads alone! At Frost Science, our Gulf Stream Aquarium is home to scalloped hammerhead sharks.

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Biggies and Smalls

Sharks have quite the range, but more than half of all shark species will never be larger than three feet long. The largest shark? That’s the whale shark, they can reach lengths of up to 40 feet! On the other end of the scale, dwarf lantern sharks only get as big as eight inches.

The Odds are in Your Favor

Did Jaws scare you? This should ease your fears… Shark bites are actually rare, there’s less than 100 shark bites reported globally each year. Of those bites, only about five are fatal.

There’s a Catch

Sharks should fear us far more than we should fear them. Annually, humans are responsible for the deaths of over 73 million sharks across the globe. That’s about 200,000 sharks per day, or 8,333 per hour. The main culprits? Targeted fishing of sharks and bycatch, where sharks get trapped while other seafood is being fished.

Skin of the Teeth

Shark skin is actually covered in dermal denticles. Instead of resembling fish scales, sharks have what more closely resembles modified teeth. The silky sharks in our Gulf Stream Aquarium stand out for more than just their beauty—they got their name because their skin is significantly smoother than other shark species.

Despite their power, sharks are no match for humans. Sharks are slow to mature and have fewer offspring than other commercial fish like tuna, snapper or grouper. Visit Frost Science to learn more about sharks, and the work we’re doing to ensure they are protected.

The post Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sharks appeared first on Frost Science.

Favicon1,000,000 Visitors…and Counting! 20 Jun 2018, 12:51 pm

Today, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park welcomed its one millionth visitor since opening on May 8, 2017. Over the past year, Frost Science has continuously transformed the visitor experience including new exhibitions, special events and programming, along with new educational offerings such as enhanced field trips, camps, overnights and more.

“With the hard work of our team and the support of our community, we are proud to meet this milestone and welcome our one millionth visitor within 13 months of our opening,” said Frost Science President and CEO Frank Steslow. “Frost Science has been welcomed with open arms by residents and guests alike and we are certainly proud of the accomplishments we have made. Together, we have laid the foundation for science-learning and discovery in Miami-Dade County. We will continue to offer new and novel ways for our community to explore the power of science.”

“When we opened the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, it was the fruition of a vision to provide our Miami-Dade County residents and visitors access to a world-class, state-of-the-art science museum,” says Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “A year later, as the museum welcomes its millionth visitor, that vision is fulfilled and we are excited to see that our community has been taking advantage of this great place that educates children and families on science and technology in fun, inspiring and innovative ways! I am proud of the technological and educational contributions Frost Science makes to our community and wish them much continued success.”

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To mark the occasion, the one-millionth visitor, Gisel De Renzo, along with her family, was surprised with a 7-night Caribbean cruise courtesy of Royal Caribbean International. Gisel De Renzo also won a Frost Science gift bag with branded items, a $100 gift card to Frost Science and “1 million minutes of science” (a two-year Family PLUS level membership). Gisel De Renzo then went on to enjoy a special museum experience including an animal encounter. Within the hour of the one millionth visitor, all museum guests enjoyed complimentary snacks by local donut shop, Happy Place Donuts, and a special Frost Science giveaway.

“Culture and education serve as necessary ingredients for the City of Miami to evolve into a truly global city. Thanks to institutions like Frost Science, Miami offers both,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “This vibrant museum attracts visitors from all over the world and engages them through fascinating exhibitions, adding yet another layer to Miami’s array of unique activities. By welcoming their one-millionth visitor, Frost Science validates its value as a key player in helping us expand our global reach and enhance our status as a thriving national and international destination.”

Frost Science has welcomed several groundbreaking special exhibitions to its campus since opening, including The Power of Poison: From the Depths of the Sea to Your Own Backyard, SPACE: An Out-of-Gravity Experience, BRAIN: The Inside Story, Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants, SEEING: What Are You Looking At? and The Mechanicals. The museum has continued to grow with supporting grants and generous donations from foundations and corporate partners. Frost Science also had a record-breaking day during the total solar eclipse in August, welcoming over 8,500 guests to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. Throughout the year, Frost Science has hosted distinguished guests and notable speakers including Cara Santa Maria, Nick Uhas, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and more.

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“With the opening of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, alongside the Arsht Center and Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami’s cultural hub is nearly complete,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a major funder of all three institutions. “Frost Science is a major part of a cultural attraction that is drawing the world, and a multimedia learning space that lets thousands of school children a year engage hands-on with science.”

“The opening of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science has further elevated the appeal of Miami and its attractions, which are among the most unique and exotic in the world,” says William D. Talbert, III, CDME, President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “From its magnificent design and stunning waterfront location on Biscayne Bay to its exceptional exhibits and programming, visitors from around the globe are eager to experience Frost Science’s extraordinary offerings.”

The post 1,000,000 Visitors…and Counting! appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconUsing the Power of Nature to Fight the Effects of Sea Level Rise 18 Jun 2018, 1:52 pm

South Florida is blessed with water. With an ocean to its east and south and the largest freshwater wetland in North America located to the west, it’s a veritable aquatic paradise. Come rainy season, water comes from the skies as well, with our frequent rains providing ample water for drinking, irrigation and aquatic activities.

But too much of it, particularly from the ocean, can stress our coastal integrity and threaten our very existence. Florida has more residents at risk from the consequences of climate change than any other U.S. state. Globally, South Florida faces the highest risk from the effects of sea level rise in terms of the potential loss of billions of dollars of infrastructure. Sea level rise implies a host of effects that go beyond rising sea levels, including flash floods, urban heat, sea water intrusion into the aquifer and beach erosion.

The gloomiest predictions are based on inaction and continuing a “business as usual” mentality. But the situation isn’t hopeless—in fact, it’s one we can tackle as a community. The more we do and the better we adapt, the softer the landing.

Sea levels are rising in South Florida about six times faster than the worldwide average, yet Miami residents point to a lack of information and a shortage of opportunities to make a positive difference. Frost Science’s Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) initiative engages local residents by restoring living coastlines. This restoration helps protect their communities and enables individuals to take ownership of adapting to climate change.

Yet, perhaps the best tool in Frost Science’s arsenal is the ability to inform and engage thousands of visitors through original exhibitions. Frost Science was built with a special feature called “flexible furniture.” With plumbing and electricity built into the floor of The Dive level of our Aquarium, we are able to change many of our table top exhibits. Just like a changing coastline, this allows us to continually offer new content to our visitors.

Recently, Wells Fargo, via the National Fish and Wildlife Resilient Cities program, in partnership with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, recognized this attribute with a major grant to Frost Science. The funding will help restore three living shorelines around Greater Miami while giving Frost Science the ability to create a series of original flexible exhibits that explain how local coastal ecosystems are protecting us from sea level rise. These exhibits are going live this month in conjunction with The Power of Poison: From the Depth of the Sea to Your Own Backyard and Da Vinci – Inventions special exhibitions.

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The first sea level rise-themed table top exhibits touch on the power of living shorelines (think: mangroves and dunes instead of seawalls) to protect inland areas from sea level rise and storm surge. We’ve all seen the images of sea walls being breached by waves during Hurricane Irma, rendering them useless. Green shorelines use their living structures to anchor sand in place (dunes), stay above the water through elevated roots (mangroves) and diminish the power of waves using their leaves and roots (saltwater grasses).

2 - Dune roots at Virginia Key North Point. Credit Dr. Rivah Winter

But the power of native habitats actually starts offshore, where coral reefs can absorb up to 97% of the power of incoming waves. Taken together, it’s hard not to appreciate these “hard-working habitats.”

Other table top exhibits feature our new Topo Box, an interactive, 3D topographic map that enables visitors to create their own landscapes and shorelines—from snow-capped mountains to the deep sea. Wiggling fingers overhead creates rainstorms, allowing visitors to explore how water moves through the environment and how large weather events might affect areas impacted by sea level rise.

In addition to the Topo Box, the Science Portal allows you to see live video, images and data feeds from research projects around the world. You can also use it to sign up as a MUVE volunteer.

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Humans and nature are working together to help South Florida adapt to sea level rise. Plan a visit to Frost Science and see for yourself!

The post Using the Power of Nature to Fight the Effects of Sea Level Rise appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconPushing Back Against Poison 6 Jun 2018, 4:42 pm

As part of the museum’s #ToxinTakeoverMiami, we invited Wendy Stephan of the Florida Poison Information Center-Miami to share her insight.

As educator and epidemiologist for the regional poison control center in South Florida, I get an inside view into the fascinating world of poison. My training in public health (and experience as a parent) have been great preparation for my work educating on an always-changing array of hazards. About a week after I started work at our center at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami Medical Center, I arrived to find my colleagues in hazmat suits. It turned out to be a drill for the hospital’s decontamination team, but I did briefly wonder if every day at the poison center would be so exciting!

For the most part, the 55 poison centers around the U.S. see similar poisonings from day to day. Why? Every Target or Walmart carries the same cleaners and cosmetics. Prescription-strength and over-the-counter medications are also comparable in Miami or Minneapolis. But locally, we do have some unique poisons that stump even doctors. Among the 250 calls we process each day, we might treat tropical marine poisonings, exposures to exotic plants, and/or herbal concoctions from around the world.

Imagine licking an ice cream cone and having it burn your tongue. Or walking across a tile floor that feels like it’s on fire. These odd sensations are a tell-tale symptom of ciguatera fish poisoning. Ciguatera results from eating a reef fish containing a high concentration of a powerful neurotoxin. Besides “reversal of hot and cold” sensations, ciguatera can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches and weakness. If not treated within the first 72 hours, symptoms can last for weeks or even months.

You might think a plant called “angel’s trumpet” would be harmlessly pretty. Not so. People who eat this plant (or sip a tea from its leaves) may find out the hard way that this plant is a killer. Most of the deaths from Brugmansia in the United States occur in our area. Symptoms can include rapid heart rate, hallucinations, increased body temperature, dilated eyes, and flushed face. Our hot weather makes it more likely that victims will dangerously dehydrate and not survive.

Have you ever taken a supplement to stay healthy? One case we treated involved the consumption of a liquid brought from Asia known as “snake wine.” Yes, there was a snake, unknown herbs (and a scorpion!) marinating in bottle of wine in the photo snapped at a local emergency room. Apparently, the person who sipped this supposed cancer preventive was not feeling well at all!

But our work is not all weird or dramatic. Early in my role as educator, I asked Earlene, one of our poison specialists, if she was treating anything exciting. She smiled kindly and said, “No, it’s been the best sort of day – I’ve gotten to tell my callers that everything’s going to be just fine.” As darkly fascinating as work at the poison center can be, she reminded me of the best part of our job – providing accurate information and reassurance to our callers, every day.

poison-control

For more information about Florida’s Poison Control Centers visit our table every weekend at Frost Science, www.floridapoisoncontrol.org, or call 1-800-222-1222 for immediate assistance with any poisoning or poison-related question.

The Power of Poison is on view through Monday, September 3, 2018 inside the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery on the first floor of the museum. The exhibition is supported locally by Jackson Health System and Florida Poison Information Center-Miami. The Power of Poison is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org).

The post Pushing Back Against Poison appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconMUVE Joins Forces with FedEx Volunteers to Restore Critical Virginia Key Ecosystem 31 May 2018, 2:04 pm

On a rainy Saturday morning, over 20 volunteers from FedEx joined Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) for a very wet coastal restoration day. Despite the downpour on May 19, volunteers of all ages helped plant around 400 plants at a restoration site on Virginia Key.

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This site, which has been nicknamed “The Gap,” has been undergoing restoration since the end of last year. Located in Virginia Key North Point, the gap was a former access path covered in residual invasive vegetation and debris. With the help of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, invasive species (such as scaevola and Australian pine) were removed from the area before it was flattened for optimal planting. Once cleared, volunteers were needed to quickly stop invasive plants from coming back.

We identified an area at the top of the dune that was suitable for native plant species to thrive—such as beach creeper, coco plum and saw palmetto—and help the dune from eroding during heavy summer rains. Enter: our FedEx volunteers. This hardworking group dug into the sand and tough rocky terrain to plant over 125 of these plants in record time.

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Next, FedEx volunteers moved down the dune to plant sea oats. This native species helps create living shorelines by stabilizing sandy areas through their deep roots. In order to plant the sea oats successfully, volunteers first removed the invading ragweed plants that were covering the sand. In its place, volunteers placed sea oat plugs which will quickly grow and out compete the ragweed. Even when it began to rain, volunteers were determined to continue establishing the plants into the dune and planted over 250 sea oats.

Another group of helpers noticed a large amount of debris littering the coastline. Using the marine debris tracker app, FedEx volunteers became citizen scientists by removing and recording the types of debris they found while cleaning the beach. This beach is an active sea turtle nesting area. By removing debris, not only does the beach become more visually appealing, we create less obstacles for these and other protected animals to move around and thrive.

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Since 2011, FedEx and the Frost Science have been working together to restore subtropical forests in South Florida through the FedEx Cares program with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These volunteers are helping to improve our public lands by making them more wildlife friendly and bringing them closer to their native characteristics—which naturally helps protect South Florida during storms. Since Virginia Key North Point has been a restoration project, there has been a decrease in erosion and an increase in native animals such as water fowl and American crocodiles. We are now witnessing one of Miami’s most historical beaches become an inviting environment for both people and nature.

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The post MUVE Joins Forces with FedEx Volunteers to Restore Critical Virginia Key Ecosystem appeared first on Frost Science.

StarDate Online - Your guide to the universe

FaviconFomalhaut System 22 Sep 2018, 1:00 am

Most of the stars in the Milky Way have companion stars. They travel through the galaxy together, bound by their mutual gravity. But many of those companions are quite remote — they can be separated by thousands of times the distance between Earth and the Sun.

The system with the widest separation yet seen is Fomalhaut. Its main star, now known as Fomalhaut A, is quite bright. Tonight, it rises to the lower right of the Moon, and is directly below the Moon around midnight.

For a long time, it looked like Fomalhaut was like the Sun — a single star. In recent years, though, astronomers have discovered that it has two companions. But they’re a long way from the bright star. In fact, the whole system spans more than three light-years.

Fomalhaut A is almost twice as big and heavy as the Sun, and about 17 times brighter.

Its closer companion is Fomalhaut B. It’s a little smaller and less massive than the Sun. It’s not visible to the eye alone, even though the system is just 25 light-years away.

The farther companion is Fomalhaut C. It’s so far from A that astronomers didn’t suspect that the two stars were related. But a study in 2013 showed that the stars are the same age, and they move through space in tandem. In other words, they’re companions.

Star C is a red dwarf — a bare cosmic ember. And it’s in the hinterlands of the Fomalhaut system — so far out that the star takes at least 20 million years to orbit its bright sibling.


Script by Damond Benningfield

StarDate: 
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Teaser: 
A star with distant relatives

FaviconFomalhaut System 22 Sep 2018, 1:00 am

Fomalhaut, the leading light of Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish, is quite bright. It rises to the lower right of the Moon tonight, and stands below the Moon around midnight. It’s in a fairly barren region of sky, which makes it easier to pick out.

FaviconZond 5 21 Sep 2018, 1:00 am

The first living things to fly to the Moon and back weren’t astronauts, cosmonauts, or even chimpanzees. They were two tortoises, some flies, and some meal worms. They completed their trip 50 years ago today aboard Zond 5 — the first spacecraft to safely complete a round-trip to the Moon and back.

Zond 5 was a test of the hardware designed to send cosmonauts on a trip around the Moon, perhaps as early as the end of 1968. They wouldn’t land or enter orbit, but their flight would beat America to the Moon.

But things hadn’t been going well. The Zond 4 mission, in March, was off course as it returned to Earth, so it blew itself up. And a test rocket blew up on the launch pad in July.

Zond 5 took off on September 14th, 1968. It passed just 1200 miles above the lunar surface a few days later, then returned to Earth. Because of a failure in its guidance system, it made an uncomfortable re-entry, but capsule and passengers survived.

The CIA had learned about the Soviet lunar missions. It alerted NASA, which decided to send the second Apollo to orbit the Moon in December.

The Soviets kept working on their mission, which they’d pushed back to 1969. But the next unmanned test flight suffered serious problems. The cabin depressurized, and the parachute system failed, so the capsule crashed.

When Apollo 8 made its lunar-orbital mission as planned, the Soviets abandoned their plans for trips around the Moon. The Moon Race was all but over.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield

StarDate: 
Friday, September 21, 2018
Teaser: 
Some odd lunar travelers

FaviconAutumn 21 Sep 2018, 1:00 am

Fall arrives in the northern hemisphere this weekend. It’s the autumnal equinox, which is the point at which the Sun crosses the equator from north to south. It occurs at 8:54 p.m. CDT Saturday.

FaviconAutumn 20 Sep 2018, 1:00 am

Fall arrives in the northern hemisphere this weekend. It’s the autumnal equinox — the point at which the Sun crosses the equator from north to south.

You probably noticed that we used two names for the season: fall and autumn. In the modern world, it’s the only season with more than one common name.

According to language experts, the season didn’t have any names until fairly recently. In fact, there wasn’t much of a concept of the season itself. In the western world, most cultures thought mainly of winter and summer — the two extremes. The transition periods between them received less attention.

By the 12th or 13th century, though, the word “harvest” first appeared as a name for the transition from summer to winter.

“Autumn” turned up a century or two later. It was adopted from a similar word in French, or from the even earlier Latin word “autumnus.” And the phrases “spring of the year” and “fall of the year” appeared a century or two after that — marking times of warmth and growth on one hand, and cold and decay on the other. Those phrases soon were shortened to just “spring” and “fall.”

Even then, there wasn’t much agreement on just what the fall season encompassed. It could start in August or September and end during November or December. A precise definition didn’t come along until we started relying on the positions of the Sun. So now, fall — or autumn — begins on the September equinox — coming up at 8:54 p.m. Central Time on Saturday.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield

Keywords:

StarDate: 
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Teaser: 
Falling into autumn

ESOcast HD

ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest news and research from ESO, the European Southern Observatory. Here we explore the Universe's ultimate frontier with our host Doctor J, a.k.a. Dr. Joe Liske.

FaviconESOcast 177 Light: A Galactic Gem (4K UHD) 12 Sep 2018, 7:00 am

FORS2, an instrument mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured the spiral galaxy NGC 3981 in all its glory. The image, captured during the ESO Cosmic Gems Programme, showcases the beauty of the southern skies when conditions don’t allow scientific observations to be made.

FaviconESOcast 176 Light: Building the Biggest Optical Telescope in the World (4K UHD) 10 Sep 2018, 5:30 am

Construction is underway at Cerro Armazones -- the future home of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). When construction is done the ELT will be the largest optical telescope​ ever built -- a dome the size of a cathedral.

FaviconESOcast 175 Light: Stars and Dust in the Carina Nebula (4K UHD) 29 Aug 2018, 7:00 am

The VISTA telescope has allowed us to peer through the hot gas and dark dust shrouding the spectacular Carina nebula to show us myriad stars, both newborn and in their death throes.

FaviconESOcast 174 Light: Elliptical Elegance (4K UHD) 8 Aug 2018, 6:00 am

The peerless surveying properties of the VST uncover exquisite details of the elliptical galaxy NGC 5018 and the delicate streams of gas and stars that surround it. Discover more in this episode of ESOcast Light.

FaviconESOcast 173: First Successful Test of Einstein’s General Relativity Near Supermassive Black Hole 26 Jul 2018, 8:00 am

Observations made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope have for the first time revealed the effects predicted by Einstein’s general relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field near the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way. This long-sought result represents the climax of a 26-year-long observation campaign using ESO’s telescopes in Chile.

HD - NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

High-definition (HD) videos from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory feature the latest news on space and science findings from JPL and NASA. Topics include discoveries made by spacecraft studying planets in our solar system, including Mars, Saturn and our home planet, Earth. Missions also study stars and galaxies in our universe.

FaviconDusk for Dawn: NASA Mission to the Asteroid Belt 7 Sep 2018, 3:00 am



NASA's Dawn spacecraft turned science fiction into science fact by using ion propulsion to explore the two largest bodies in the main asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres.



FaviconWhat's Up - September 2018 30 Aug 2018, 3:00 am



September nights! Planets bright! Milky Way sights!!



FaviconMars in a Minute: How Did Mars Get Such Enormous Mountains 28 Aug 2018, 3:00 am



Why are the tallest peaks in the solar system found on one of its smallest worlds? Like any planet, how Mars looks outside is tied to what goes on inside.



Favicon15 Years in Space: Spitzer Space Telescope 24 Aug 2018, 3:00 am



Initially scheduled for a 2.5-year primary mission, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has gone far beyond its expected lifetime -- and is still going strong after 15 years.



FaviconMars Report: August 20 2018 20 Aug 2018, 3:00 am



What's the latest news from Mars?