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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 {CTA} and Da Vinci – Inventions special exhibitions.


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.


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.


For more information about Florida’s Poison Control Centers visit our table every weekend at Frost Science,, 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 (

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Favicon5 Picture-Perfect Selfie Spots at Frost Science 24 May 2018, 3:49 pm

As we’ve gotten to know our visitors over the past year, one thing’s become clear—they certainly know how to wield a camera! Turns out, Frost Science is full of Instagram-worthy photo opps and moments, some of which we’ve shared on our @frostscience Instagram page.

In celebration of our one-year anniversary, we’re taking a look back at our Instagram tags and counting down the five most popular spots to snap a pic around the museum:

1. Projection Wall in Feathers to the Stars

A post shared by Karla Corria KC (@karla_corria) on

Visitors seem to get a kick out of the visually arresting projection wall in our Feathers to the Stars exhibition. The horizontal white stripes illuminated against a black background give an artsy air to the typical photo backdrop.

2. Jellies

A post shared by Lissette (@lolwithme) on

Ethereally floating in their salt water habitats, guests can’t seem to get enough of our jellies. Their iridescent glow under black lights make for an IG-worthy pic. You’ll find them in the Deep level of our Aquarium.

3. Rooftop Observation Deck

With jaw-dropping views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline, it’s no surprise that our rooftop terraces are a favorite backdrop for smartphone snaps.

4. MeLaβ Dance Floor

Our interactive dance floor seems to have all the right moves when it comes to our visitors. With every step, hop and twirl comes a dazzling display of lights and shapes that kids of all ages can’t seem to get enough of.

5. The Oculus

A post shared by Jim Malucci (@jimmyrockandroll) on

Hands-down, our iconic Oculus wins the prize for most popular spot to snap an Instagram pic on our entire campus. The 31-foot wide lens provides a spellbinding view into the conical Gulf Stream aquarium above. Some of our visitors have even been photobombed by one of our resident silky sharks!

What’s your favorite place to take a photo in Frost Science? Tag us on your next post at @frostscience, #frostscience or #itssciencemiami and let us know!

The post 5 Picture-Perfect Selfie Spots at Frost Science appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconA Step-by-Step Guide to Exploring “The Power of Poison” 16 May 2018, 10:58 am

On May 26, you’ll have the opportunity to experience our newest and most ambitious special exhibition to date, The Power of Poison: From the Depths of the Sea to Your Own Backyard. You’ll discover poison and venom’s power as it seeps through the walls of our museum in a toxin takeover of the entire campus! From new exhibits and experiences, to dynamic new live shows and a digital scavenger hunt, it’ll be an experience you don’t want to miss.

Spanning the rooftop and the depths of the aquarium, this is our largest special exhibition to date. Throughout your exploration, look for the #ToxinTakeoverMiami stickers. They denote exhibits that are part of the takeover and will help identify which things are poisonous or venomous.


Because of the extensive nature of this exhibition, we’ve pulled together a user-friendly guide aimed at helping you navigate all the exhibits while making the most of your visit.

New Exhibits

1. The Power of Poison: From the Depths of the Sea to Your Own Backyard

Located in the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery on Level 1, The Power of Poison exhibition explores poison’s role in nature, literature, and culture, while taking a deeper look at the toxic species that reside in ecosystems both in Florida and around the world.

Take a peek at some our live poisonous and venomous species—including the dart frog and a tarantula—after walking through an immersive replica of Colombia’s Chocó Forest. Then, immerse yourself in the world of poisonous potions featured in fairy tales and literary works like Macbeth, Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter, before joining us for “A Tale of Toxicology”—a thrilling live investigation into the science behind poison, its interaction with the human body and the experiments behind its detection.

You can also channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and solve a poison “Whodunit!” on one of the iPad-powered tableaus in the exhibition.

2. Aquarium: Royal Caribbean Vista

Slither by venomous snake species and learn about their toxic attributes on the Royal Caribbean Vista.

3. Aquarium: Toxin Takeover on the Dive

Navigate your way through the Dive level of the Aquarium, where you’ll learn about the differences between poison and venom and discover the diverse array of toxins that have evolved in the marine environment. You’ll also explore the role that venom plays in the ecological strategies of these organisms and how these compounds have been used to develop novel medicines. Along the way, you’ll uncover fascinating facts about dart frogs, boxfish, pufferfish and more!

4. Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Scientific Illustrations

On the Dive level of the Aquarium, take a peek at eight illustrations featuring some of the poisonous and venomous creature that lurk beneath the ocean’s surface. These illustrations are from the American Museum of Natural History Library’s Rare Book collection and are part of our new Opulent Oceans exhibition.

*Bonus: You can explore more of Opulent Oceans throughout all five levels of the museum’s North Wing. The new exhibition explores the integral role illustration has played in undersea exploration and discovery through 55 exquisite, large-format reproductions from 33 rare and beautifully illustrated scientific works adapted from Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibition is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (

5. Aquarium: The Deep

Dive into the Deep level of our Aquarium, where venomous moon jellies, spotted lagoon jellies and Japanese sea nettles float serenely through their watery habitat.

6. Butterfly Garden

Wing it on the rooftop terrace and observation deck with Monarch butterflies and their poisonous meal of choice: milkweed.

7. Inventors in Residence Lab

Stop by our Inventors in Residence Lab on Level 5 of the North Wing where scientists are using lasers to analyze samples for the presence of carcinogens and other toxins.

8. Toxic Treatments: Modern Medicine from Ancient Wisdom

While you’re in the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery exploring The Power of Poison exhibition, take a moment to study 12 framed scientific illustrations on display from professional botanical artist Donna Torres. Each piece of art has been hand-selected by Frost Science and features plant-based toxins that are used for medicinal purposes including mandrake, belladonna and the strychnine tree.

Also, keep an eye out for these new live shows and demonstrations:

A Tale of Toxicology

Located in The Power Poison, Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery
Join us for a thrilling investigation into the science behind poison, its interaction with the human body and the experiments behind its detection.
Live show times: 11:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Video version, every 15 mins between live show times

Stomach-Turning Toxins

Located on the Level 3 Outdoor Terrace
We, as humans, need food to survive and thrive. But what happens when our food becomes contaminated? Bacteria, viruses, parasites and other toxic substances can make their way into what we eat. Thankfully, the human body rapidly springs into action to rid itself of these harmful toxins. This riveting 10-minute live show simulates what happens when contaminated food needs to come back up, and how the amazing human body reacts to protect itself.
*This demo will be rotated throughout various Spark of Science presentations which occur:
Monday – Friday: 1:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

And don’t forget to take part in our new digital scavenger hunt on the Frost Science app! You can earn the new Toxin Takeover badge by tracking down poisonous plants and venomous animals on each floor of the museum while learning about the differences between poison and venom.




The Power of Poison will be on view from Saturday, May 26, 2018 through Monday, September 3, 2018. Admission to The Power of Poison is included in all museum admission tickets. For more information on the exhibition, events and programming, visit

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 (

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Exploring “The Power of Poison” appeared first on Frost Science.

StarDate Online - Your guide to the universe

FaviconFirst-Quarter Moon 20 Jun 2018, 1:00 am

The Moon is at first quarter today. The Moon lines up at a right angle to the line between Earth and the Sun, so sunlight illuminates exactly half of the lunar hemisphere that faces Earth.

FaviconNabta 20 Jun 2018, 1:00 am

For the people of southern Egypt, the summer solstice once was a time to gather. The monsoon season began about then, bringing enough rain to create shallow lakes. People gathered to water their cattle, and to offer sacrifices to the gods. So it was important to know when the solstice was coming.

At one site, people built what may have been a calendar — a ring of small stones. Some of the stones pointed north, while others aligned with the sunrise on the solstice. And some may have pointed to the rising points of bright stars.

Nabta Playa is near the southern border of Egypt, about 65 miles west of the Nile River. Excavations have shown that the site was inhabited as early as 7,000 years ago. People built structures and dug wells. They also dug burial pits and quarried sandstone. Some of the rocks were used in the calendar circle and the possible sightlines to the stars.

These structures weren’t on the scale of Stonehenge. Most of the rock markers were only a few inches to a few feet tall. And the calendar circle spanned only about 12 feet. Yet that would have been enough to sight the rising of the Sun and stars at key times of the year.

The rocks may have been aligned with Arcturus, Sirius, and Alpha Centauri — three of the brightest stars in the night sky. These alignments could have helped the people of Nabta keep time with the seasons — and with the life-giving rains of summer.

More about the summer solstice tomorrow.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Calendar markers in the Egyptian desert

FaviconDust Collector 19 Jun 2018, 2:18 am

NASA's ER-2 is one of two types of aircraft the agency uses to collect bits of space dust from the upper atmosphere. These tiny grains (inset, microscopic view) come from comets and asteroids that orbit the Sun, and drift into the upper atmosphere. The aircraft reach altitudes of 60,000 feet or higher, which is far above commercial traffic. [NASA/Carla Thomas]

Catching Dust
Space-dust collecting aircraft

FaviconLyra 19 Jun 2018, 1:00 am

The constellation Lyra, the harp, is easy to find because it contains Vega, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Vega is well up in the east during mid-evening. The other stars of Lyra form a small diamond to the lower right of Vega.

FaviconCatching Dust 19 Jun 2018, 1:00 am

Space-dust collecting aircraft

NASA's ER-2 is one of two types of aircraft the agency uses to collect bits of space dust from the upper atmosphere. These tiny grains (inset, microscopic view) come from comets and asteroids that orbit the Sun, and drift into the upper atmosphere. The aircraft reach altitudes of 60,000 feet or higher, which is far above commercial traffic. [NASA/Carla Thomas]

Most of us spend a fair amount of time trying to get rid of the dust in our homes. But some scientists at NASA spend time trying to catch dust. They use high-altitude aircraft to catch particles of dust that come from outside Earth’s atmosphere.

Thousands of tons of cosmic dust enter the atmosphere every year. Most of the particles are grains from comets and asteroids. Collecting them reveals more about these big chunks of ice, rock, and metal. And since comets and asteroids are leftovers from the birth of the planets, the dust grains also reveal a lot about conditions in the early solar system.

So NASA has been flying dust collectors aboard two types of aircraft for more than 30 years — modified versions of a spy plane and a Korean War-era bomber. The craft reach the stratosphere — altitudes of 50,000 feet or higher. Even there, most of the particles they pick up come from Earth — bits of sand, pollen, volcanic ash, and others. But there’s enough space dust to make it worth the effort.

At high altitude, the aircraft deploy flat, round collectors that are coated with a sticky oil. They come in two sizes — as big as a saucer or a dinner plate. The big one catches 20 or so grains of cosmic dust per hour.

NASA scientists sort through thousands of particles to pick out the ones that came from beyond Earth. Other scientists from around the world can then study the dust grains — learning more about the solar system from its tiniest members.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Catching dust in the stratosphere
Space-dust collecting aircraft
Space-dust collecting aircraft

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 165: Fast Track Your Career with the ESO Fellowship Programmes 19 Jun 2018, 7:00 am

Each year, several outstanding early-career scientists have the opportunity to further develop their independent research programmes at the European Southern Observatory. Fellowships are available both at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, and at ESO’s astronomy centre in Santiago, Chile.

FaviconESOcast 164 Light: ALMA Discovers Trio of Infant Planets (4K UHD) 13 Jun 2018, 10:00 am

ALMA has uncovered convincing evidence that three young planets are in orbit around the infant star HD 163296. Using a new planet-finding technique, astronomers have identified three discrete disturbances in the young star’s gas-filled disc: the strongest evidence yet that newly formed planets are in orbit there. These are considered the first planets discovered with ALMA.

FaviconESOcast 163 Light: Too Many Massive Stars in Starburst Galaxies (4K UHD) 4 Jun 2018, 11:00 am

Astronomers using ALMA and the VLT have discovered that starburst galaxies in both the early and the nearby Universe contain a much higher proportion of massive stars than is found in more peaceful galaxies.

FaviconESOcast 162 Light: A Crowded Neighbourhood (4K UHD) 30 May 2018, 6:00 am

Glowing brightly about 160 000 light-years away, the Tarantula Nebula is the most spectacular feature of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our Milky Way. The VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has imaged this region and its rich surroundings in exquisite detail. It reveals a cosmic landscape of star clusters, glowing gas clouds and the scattered remains of supernova explosions. This is the sharpest image ever of this entire field.

FaviconESOcast 161 Light: Distant galaxy reveals very early star formation (4K UHD) 16 May 2018, 1:00 pm

Astronomers have used observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to determine that star formation in the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 started at an unexpectedly early stage, only 250 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery also represents the most distant oxygen ever detected in the Universe and the most distant galaxy ever observed by ALMA or the VLT.

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.

FaviconWhat's Up - June 2018 1 Jun 2018, 3:00 am

What's up in the night sky this month? Enjoy a ringside seat for Saturn, plus a night long parade featuring Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Vesta!

FaviconMars Report: May 24, 2018 24 May 2018, 3:00 am

What's the latest news from Mars?

FaviconCrazy Engineering: GRACE-FO 9 May 2018, 3:00 am

Crazy Engineering sees double! Twin satellites that will track water movement on Earth and test a new laser measurement technology.

FaviconWhat's Up - May 2018 1 May 2018, 3:00 am

The moon and Saturn meet Mars in the morning as NASA's Insight spacecraft launches to the red planet on May 5.

FaviconNEOWISE: Four Years of Asteroid and Comet Data 23 Apr 2018, 3:00 am

NASA's asteroid-hunting NEOWISE survey has observed or detected more than 29,000 asteroids in infrared light.