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Frost Science

FaviconCan a Lab Float? The Story Behind the Science Barge 20 Apr 2017, 8:48 am

Maybe you’ve walked past it while on a sunny stroll through Museum Park’s Baywalk—a floating rig on Biscayne Bay outfitted with solar panels and an assortment of equipment. Would you be surprised to know that it’s a fully-functional laboratory?

Welcome aboard the Science Barge, a floating environmental laboratory that joined the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science family on April 1 as a result of a generous gift from Miami Science Barge, Inc., a non-profit organization. The $1.2 million project was conceived and designed by Ted Caplow and Nathalie Manzano as a floating environmental innovation lab, and opened to the  public in 2016. The Science Barge has become part of Frost Science a year later to continue the mission  of science education and sustainability. Since its opening in April 2016, the 120-foot long, 30-foot wide barge has been inviting the community to discover the unique living systems of Biscayne Bay.

The Science Barge is a natural extension of the topics and learning opportunities you’ll explore in the museum’s Aquarium and science exhibitions. On board, you’ll find hydroponic systems, marine experiments and cutting-edge science that explores sustainable technologies—all powered by the solar panels surrounding it. You can also take part in active investigations into the surrounding marine life (think: plankton and fish). And while you’re there, don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of the manatee families, dolphins and sea birds that occasionally stop by the barge!

As a major focal point for STEM education, the barge has welcomed close to 9,000 visitors and 3,000 students from 50 different schools for interactive STEM sessions. And we have big plans to continue its mission—the barge will play an important role in our citizen science (or crowd-sourced science) program, which offers the community an opportunity to connect with ongoing research projects and the work of scientists.

While we plan on closing the barge for a few months this summer, look out for an exciting roster of programs and events when it re-opens later this year.

A calendar of public events can be found at www.miamisciencebarge.org.


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FaviconPreschool Scientists Get a Helping Hand from Two Notable Organizations 20 Apr 2017, 8:40 am

Pre-kindergarteners donning lab coats and monitoring an intricate array of Bunsen burners? Well, not quite. But it’s never too early to begin opening the doors to the wonderful world of science—and two new grants awarded to us by the National Science Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will help us do just that.

“Grants from the prestigious National Science Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation help Frost Science pursue efforts to stimulate science learning among Miami’s youth and will have consequences for educators and children everywhere,” said Richard Kurin, Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research, Smithsonian Institution. “Frost Science, in its new, world-class facility, will be able to ramp up its educational activities and inspire millions. As a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, it is well-positioned to be a national leader.”

The National Science Foundation’s Science Learning+ Initiative granted Frost Science a $1.4 million award that will help launch Move2Learn: Embodied Learning for Preschool Scientists, a three-year project that studies how thought and movement relate to embodied learning to accelerate science understanding among children. One of our new exhibitions, River of Grass, will be the focus of Move2Learn, researching how organizations can improve STEM learning exhibits for young visitors. Located in the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust Gallery, River of Grass takes young explorers through a virtual, sensory-filled journey inside one of the most precious ecosystems on the planet—the Everglades.

The goal of the project? To create new tools and techniques for evaluating embodied learning in museum settings, build guidelines for applying embodied learning to exhibit design and form an international community of early learning educators and researchers working together to focus on embodied pre-K science learning.

Helping Frost Science to build upon ECHOS® (Early Childhood Hands-On Science), an interactive hands-on science curriculum for children ages three to five, is a generous $500,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The funds will help launch ECHOS®: Science from the Start, a program that will bring hands-on science curriculum to 34 pre-K classrooms located in low-income, high-need communities throughout the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system.

Through this program, we’ll be collaborating with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to coordinate the science curriculum, methodology, classroom environment, parent engagement and teacher training across the preschool programs in 15 STEM-designated elementary schools as a first step toward developing an aligned P-3 science program.

“We are very excited to support Frost Science’s ECHOS®: Science from the Start project,” said Jenefer O’Dell, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “At the Kellogg Foundation, we believe that partnering with families, schools and communities can make a difference in young children’s learning and development. By strengthening teacher professional development, enhancing alignment among early childhood and K-3 systems and implementing family engagement strategies, this innovative partnership can help children succeed in school.”

The post Preschool Scientists Get a Helping Hand from Two Notable Organizations appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconBehind the Beam: The Eye-Popping Science of LASERsHOW 24 Mar 2017, 3:48 pm

The brilliance of lasers stirs the imagination—not only is their light stunning, but they evoke images of science fiction adventures and can be used to vividly teach people about the physics of light. Here at Frost Science, lasers find their home inside Frost Planetarium, where every first Friday of the month you can catch spectacular laser light shows. But you’ll also find them in our grand 10,000-square-foot Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery that houses LASERsHOW: Light, Color and Geometry, an innovative exhibition designed by artist Matthew Schreiber that takes you through an immersive experience of the wonders of lasers and light itself.

Recognized as one of the top ten technological achievements of the 20th century, lasers played a pivotal role in the advancement of science. But they also generated a great deal of interest and excitement amongst artists who began experimenting with them in the 1960s. Holograms, X-Y scanning, laser light shows and laser sculptures harnessed this incredible technology for both scientific and artistic purposes. In fact, it’s quite possible that the last concert you attended used these vibrant beams to visually rock out the show!

Conceptual rendering of LASERsHOW: Light, Color and Geometry

Conceptual rendering of LASERsHOW: Light, Color and Geometry

Schreiber, who also designed the final laser sculpture and soundscape exhibition in our former location, still remembers the first time he was inspired by lasers. It was at the Ontario Science Centre many moons ago—a visit he fondly credits for his genuine interest in lasers as a creative medium for his current international art practice. “LASERsHOW is, somehow, a way for me to come full circle at Frost Science, a similar setting to where everything started. A way for me to celebrate the praxis of art and science in an environment designed to inspire the next generations of scientists and artists.”

Inside the vast dark space, four stations located around a sculptural center stage offer an eye-opening exploration into the physics of light and lasers. At each station, you will see laser demonstrations and learn about the science behind this fascinating medium. You’ll watch a prism split white light into all the colors of the visible spectrum and discover how light can be reflected, refracted and recombined in fantastic ways. Look up, and you’ll see a peaceful kaleidoscopic laser light figure come to life mere feet above your head.

The geometry-inspired center stage and the overhead laser system have already been installed in our traveling gallery and the team is now working tirelessly on programming the space so light, sound and script play in beautiful unison.

Once open, the exhibition will celebrate the essence behind a traditional laser show like the ones being shown inside of our planetarium. It’s an experience quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

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Previous works by artist Matthew Schreiber Previous works by artist Matthew Schreiber Previous works by artist Matthew Schreiber Previous works by artist Matthew Schreiber
Previous works by artist Matthew Schreiber

The post Behind the Beam: The Eye-Popping Science of LASERsHOW appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconFlorida Inventors Hall of Fame Welcomes Phillip Frost 23 Mar 2017, 11:07 am

Yes, it’s true—Frost Science has a hall of famer in the books!

Dr. Phillip Frost will be part of an exclusive group of innovators inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame on September 8 in Tampa, Florida. Longtime supporters of the arts and culture in South Florida, Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost have been lead donors for the museum and our state-of-the-art planetarium in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park.

Dr. Frost is being recognized for inventing a revolutionary disposable punch biopsy tool, along with various therapeutic methods for treating rhinitis, cell disease and diabetes.

A highly-respected physician, Dr. Frost is also one of the nation’s leading philanthropists, funding local science and initiatives at both the University of Miami and Florida International University. He’s also an internationally-renowned businessman in the medical and pharmaceutical fields, serving as the current CEO and chairman of OPKO Health in Miami.

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame (FIHF) recognizes and commends Florida inventors whose achieve­ments have advanced the quality of life for Floridians, the state and the nation. FIHF was recognized by the Florida Senate in 2014 with a resolution sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes that commended the Hall of Fame “for its commitment to honoring inventors and celebrating innovation, discovery, and excellence.” The Hall of Fame is located at the University of South Florida in Tampa and supported, in part, by the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.

You can find a complete list of Florida Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, including biographical information, here: www.FloridaInvents.org.


The post Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Welcomes Phillip Frost appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconSupersonic Challenges: The Installation of the F-5 Fighter Jet 27 Jan 2017, 2:10 pm

Riddle us this: what moves faster than the speed of sound and lives in a gallery? It’s our Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter, on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The supersonic light fighter is capable of speeds faster than 1,000 miles per hour and you’ll find it hanging right over your head in the Feathers to the Stars exhibition, located in the Batchelor Foundation and Christine Allen Gallery, in the museum’s North Wing.

How is an 8,000-pound airplane moved into a gallery? Teamwork. Lots of it. For that, Frost Science enlisted the help of an invaluable group of experts, including first-class airplane movers and riggers. The aircraft was brought into the building in three pieces (the fuselage, the wings and the tail) through a tight opening between the Frost Planetarium and the level three terraces. The intricate task took our crew 10 hours from beginning to end.

Breaking through the sound barrier is a relatively recent feat in human history. On October 14, 1947, Captain Charles “Chuck” Yeager became the first to do so. Manning a rocket engine-powered Bell X-1, Yeager reached Mach 1.06— exceeding the speed of sound in level flight. (At 768 miles per hour, Mach 1 is equal to the speed of sound.)

Because sound waves move at a finite speed, moving sources can catch up with the sound waves they emit as they accelerate. As this happens, sound waves pile up in front of them. If the aircraft is fast enough, it can burst through them causing a sonic boom. The loud noise is a consequence of the change in pressure as the aircraft outruns all the sound waves ahead of itself.

That accomplishment came just over 40 years after Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first controlled, sustained flight of a heavier-than-air powered aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And just over 20 years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. In less than a lifetime, humans mastered the sky and knocked on the door of space exploration.

Feathers to the Stars will carry you through the amazing story how ancient evolution gave birth to animal flight, and how humans used imagination and engineering to get airborne and explore the infinite possibilities of space. It’s a story driven by challenges—and perseverance. Ready for take-off? You can find more information on the exhibition here.


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Photo Credit: Barry Fellman, Center for Visual Communication

The post Supersonic Challenges: The Installation of the F-5 Fighter Jet appeared first on Frost Science.

StarDate Online - Your guide to the universe

FaviconVanishing Dog 26 Apr 2017, 1:00 am

Sirius, the Dog Star, is dropping from the evening sky. It is low in the southwest at sunset and sets by around 11 p.m. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. It looks like a brilliant white gem, which twinkles fiercely.

FaviconBlack-Hole Feast 26 Apr 2017, 1:00 am

It’s not unusual to see a black hole feast on a passing star or gas cloud. But one black hole has managed to make the feast last for more than a decade — and it’s not over yet.

The black hole is known by a catalog name — XJ-1500 for short. It’s in a galaxy that’s almost two billion light-years away. The galaxy is much smaller than our home galaxy, the Milky Way. But it’s giving birth to stars at a much faster rate — and that could be one reason for the long meal.

The black hole is at the heart of the galaxy. It’s probably a million times as massive as the Sun — about a quarter the heft of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

In 2005, an orbiting X-ray telescope saw the galaxy flare up. Over the next few months, the X-rays got even brighter — about a hundred times brighter than before the flare-up. The outburst has faded since then, but the galaxy’s X-rays are still unusually strong.

An international team of astronomers interpreted the flare-up as the disruption of a star that passed close to the black hole, and was pulled apart by the black hole’s gravity. That created a stream of super-hot gas that spiraled closer to the black hole.

The star was probably about twice the mass of the Sun — an unusually large meal for a black hole. The odds of the black hole grabbing such a massive star might have been enhanced by the fact that its galaxy is giving birth to so many stars — providing the entree for a black-hole feast.


Script by Damond Benningfield

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
A black hole feasts on a big star

FaviconNew Moon 25 Apr 2017, 1:00 am

The Moon is “new” early tomorrow, as it crosses the imaginary line between Earth and Sun. We can’t see the new Moon because it appears too close to the Sun, and because its sunlit side is facing away from Earth.

FaviconA ‘Proximate’ Orbit 25 Apr 2017, 1:00 am

Our closest neighboring star was discovered a century ago. Ever since then, astronomers have suspected that it’s a member of a triple star system. And some recent research provides confirmation of that idea.

Despite its nearness, Proxima Centauri is so feeble that it’s invisible to the unaided eye. That’s why astronomers didn’t spot it until 1915. Today, we know that it’s just four-and-a-quarter light-years from Earth.

At the time of its discovery, astronomers noticed that Proxima Centauri was at nearly the same distance as a much brighter star — actually a pair of stars whose light blends together to make it the third-brightest star in the night sky.

This brilliant double star is Alpha Centauri. It’s only about a tenth of a light-year farther than Proxima, and it moves through space at nearly the same velocity as Proxima. So from the beginning, astronomers have suspected that Proxima Centauri is part of the Alpha Centauri system.

But Proxima is a long way from the other two stars. If it is bound to them, it must have almost exactly the same speed through space. Otherwise, the little star would escape Alpha Centauri’s gravitational grip.

Recent measurements of Proxima Centauri’s motion have shown that the star is indeed bound to the binary. It orbits its bright partners once every 550,000 years.

So the nearest star system to the Sun is triple, harboring two bright stars plus dim little Proxima.


Script by Ken Croswell, Copyright 2016

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Making three stars a family

FaviconSoyuz 1 24 Apr 2017, 1:00 am

In the spring of 1967, the Soviet Union was getting ready to celebrate May Day, one of its most important holidays. And the celebration would be preceded by a spectacular mission in space: Two Soyuz spacecraft would rendezvous and dock, and two cosmonauts would walk in space.

Soyuz was designed to carry cosmonauts to the Moon. But three unmanned tests had all resulted in failure. Even so, there was pressure to get on with the first manned flights. So 40-year-old cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov launched aboard Soyuz 1 on April 23rd, 1967.

But the craft was a dud, rushed into space before it was ready. After launch, one of its solar panels failed to open, and systems designed to aim and maneuver the Soyuz failed as well.

The launch of Soyuz 2 was canceled, and controllers set about trying to get Komarov back home. More problems delayed retro-fire by two orbits. Finally, after a day in space, Komarov fired his rockets and headed home.

After reentry, though, the main parachute got stuck. A backup deployed, but got tangled with a smaller chute and never opened. Soyuz 1 hit the ground at 90 miles per hour, killing Komarov. Moments later, braking rockets fired, engulfing the capsule in flames.

It took 18 months to redesign the Soyuz and get it back into space — a delay that scuttled any chances of winning the Moon race. Today, though, the Soyuz continues to fly — carrying Russians, Americans, and others to the International Space Station.


Script by Damond Benningfield

Monday, April 24, 2017
A tragedy for the Soviet space program

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 103 Light: New ALMA accommodation unveiled (4K UHD) 25 Apr 2017, 9:00 am

The stunning new ALMA Residencia building has just been handed over.

FaviconESOcast 102 Light: Dramatic Stellar Fireworks (4K UHD) 7 Apr 2017, 9:00 am

Stellar explosions are most often associated with supernovae, the spectacular deaths of stars. But new ALMA observations of the Orion Nebula complex provide insights into explosions at the other end of the stellar life cycle, star birth. This ESOcast Light takes a quick look at the important facts.

FaviconESOcast 101 Light: Stars found in black hole blasts (4K UHD) 27 Mar 2017, 11:00 am

New observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope have revealed stars forming in the huge outflows in galaxies, which are driven by central supermassive black holes. This ESOcast Light takes a quick look at the important facts.

FaviconESOcast 100 Light: Dark Matter Less Influential in Early Universe (4K UHD) 15 Mar 2017, 2:00 pm

New observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope have revealed that the outer parts of massive disc galaxies 10 billion years ago were rotating less quickly than the spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, that we see today. This ESOcast Light summarises the important points of this discovery and the significance of dark matter, and how it is distributed.

FaviconESOcast 99 Light: ALMA Sheds Light on the First Stars (4K UHD) 8 Mar 2017, 6:00 am

ALMA observations have revealed that a very distant galaxy, seen when the Universe was just 4% of its current age, was rich in cosmic dust. This ESOcast Light quickly looks at what this means and why it is important.

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.

FaviconRadar Imagery of Asteroid 2014 JO25 19 Apr 2017, 3:00 am

This movie of asteroid 2014 JO25 was generated using radar data collected by NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California's Mojave Desert.

FaviconIngredients for Life at Enceladus 13 Apr 2017, 3:00 am

NASA's Cassini spacecraft discovered hydrogen in the plume of gas and icy particles spraying from Saturn's moon Enceladus.

FaviconCassini's Grand Finale 4 Apr 2017, 3:00 am

The final chapter in a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery, Cassini's Grand Finale is in many ways like a brand new mission.

FaviconWhat's Up - April 2017 1 Apr 2017, 3:00 am

Jupiter is visible all night long, and the Lyrid meteors shower puts on a good show April 22 before dawn.

FaviconExploring Ocean Worlds with Robots 30 Mar 2017, 3:00 am

The search for life beyond Earth needs robots. But to explore distant ocean worlds like Europa, we'll need a new set of tools to drill through ice, reach faraway samples and cross difficult terrain.