Nevermind the Titanosaure, you can touch a Meteorite in the Natural History Museum

Billions of years ago, an early planet orbiting the Sun was shattered, perhaps in collision with another protoplanet. The fragment now known as the Willamette meteorite was probably part of the planet’s iron-nickel core.

Thousands of years ago, this meteorite, traveling some 64.000 kilometres per hour, crashed into Earth’s surface.

Over many centuries, rainwater interacting its iron sulfide deposits produced sulfuric acid, which slowly etched and carved large cavities.

Only about 600 of the 25.000 meteorites found on Earth are made of iron. The material was created deep inside stars, which produce energy by fusing lighter elements into heavier ones – for example hydrogen into helium. 

Touching it is warmly encouraged.

The 15.5-ton Willamette Meteorite

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An influx of knowledge that raises even more questions; like, how to find out how much you weigh on the Moon:

Weight on the moon conversion formula

Or, you can go on this scale:

20,9 pounds equals almost 9,5 kilos (no diet necessary on the Moon…)

Learning is fun at the American Museum of Natural History
Upper West Side, Manhattan

November 13th, 2016

Natural History Course

Walking through the immensity of the Museum of Natural History, in Upper West Side. Every room another wonder of our Cosmos.

Megaloceros

Megaloceros (Greek: μεγάλος – megalos + κέρας – keras, meaning “Great Horn”) may be the largest deer ever to have lived. It belongs to the group called artiodactyls (Greek: άρτιος – ártios + δάκτυλος – dáktylos, meaning ‘even finger/toe’) – hoofed mammals that usually have an even number of toes. Generally, only male artiodactyls have antlers. In living deer, they are used during the mating season for wrestling with other males and attracting females. Then, they are shed. This means that Megaloceros regrew its enormous antlers every year!

Stenomylus hitchcocki

Stenomylus (Greek στενός – stenos “narrow” and μύλος – milos [latin: mola] “molar” meaning ”narrow tooth”. This group of camel skeletons was buried in dune sand in western Nebraska 22 million years ago. These individuals are only some of the numerous completely preserved camel skeletons that were found together at a site in Agate Springs National Monument. Stenomylus lived in a region where dune fields extended widely. It was relatively primitive in its body skeleton, but had the more advanced feature of very high-crowned teeth – presumably to cope with sand-laden food, which rapidly wears down the teeth. 

If I understood correctly, ”hitchcocki” was added in honour of Dr. Edward Hitchcock, a geologist and President of Amherst College, whose Ichnology Collection of dinosaur footprints and tracks is invaluable (read more about it here).

 

Mammuthus

Mammoths were widespread during the Ice Ages. Some had woolly fur to keep them warm. This is a ”non-woolly” mammoth that lived in southern parts of the United States, which were not covered by glaciers. Like living elephants, Mammoths had trunks. We can’t see it on this skeleton, because soft parts are rarely preserved as fossils. But we can see where the trunk was attached, at the large single opening high on the front of the skull. The Greek myth of one-eyed giants, the Cyclops, may have arisen when ancient people found fossil provoscidean skulls and mistook this nostril opening for an eye socket. Most mammoths died out by 11.000 years ago but a few somewhat dwarfed forms persisted until about 3.000 years ago on remote arctic islands.

Titanosauria
(click on photo for a panoramic view and caption)

This stuffed beauty
(although I instinctively dislike stuffed animals)

Creatures of the sea hanging in mid-air
And those that came from the cold

American Museum of Natural History

November 13th, 2016

Haunted

The New York Cancer Hospital founded in 1884, was designed by architect Charles Coolidge Haight to resemble a French chateau. When I first saw it, unaware of its function or background, I thought of an academic institution or a public administration building – certainly not a hospital!

But a hospital it was and the very first one to treat cancer in the United States, at that. Although treatment is rather a euphemism since there was no cure for cancer at the time. In reality, patients came here to ease the pain, seeking comfort in morphine and champagne. Reportedly the hospital spent more on alcoholic beverages than medical supplies.

Because of the high mortality rate among patients, its reputation was gradually tarnished to the point that it became known as ”the Bastille”, a place to be feared and avoided. Along came financial troubles, followed by a change of name (under which it thrived) and a relocation to the East Side in 1995.

With the cancer hospital relocated, the ”Bastille” became a nursing home, mistreated and abused its elderly patients, got involved in fraud cases, and was finally closed down in a state of neglect and disrepair, in 1974. That’s probably when the ghosts took over; for it goes without saying that the ”Bastille” a.k.a the ”Castle” is reputedly haunted. With so much suffering and darkness, how could it not be?

Unbelievably, it survived demolition. After decades of neglect it was redeveloped in the noughties and, by 2005, turned into – take a guess – luxury condominiums. In case you’re curious, take a look inside one of the apartments here.

I wonder what the ghosts have to say about this.

455 Central Park West

Octobrrrrr 16th, 2016

Strangers Gate

All strangers are welcome to come together and be strangers no more.

For some, the Gate marks an opening to enter the Park. But on that October evening it became a portal; our opening to a Human Requiem. ”Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem was written not for the dead, but for the living. The composer himself called it the “human” requiem—otherworldly music to accompany those who seek to transcend our human condition. For this unique theatrical choral event staged by Jochen Sandig and gracefully scored for piano four hands and choir, conductor Simon Halsey and Rundfunkchor Berlin craft an immersive experience of remarkable artistry where the standing audience moves organically with the production—and division between performer and audience, life and death, light and dark all seem to dissolve.”~ Excerpt from the programme.

Part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival.

Synod Hall, St. John the Divine Cathedral
W 110 St. & Amsterdam Av.

Strangers Gate on W 106 St., is one of the twenty entrances to Central Park that have been named in honour of the population of New York and represent the vision that Central Park is ”the People’s Park”.

October 16th, 2016

Squeezed

~ tightly. Riding the New York City subway during rush hour feels like…

Back on the surface, this bulbous structure attracted much criticism when it was erected in 1902. Built by Philip Braender, a German-born developer-cum-automobile tyre manufacturer, and designed by architect Frederick C. Browne in a mix style with French Renaissance, Spanish and Baroque influences, the Braender should have really stood out. Instead, it was criticised for being one of the same, similar to a dozen other buildings in the area.

”One of these things makes you yawn. A mile of them gets on your nerves”, wrote the critic Montgomery Shuyler in The Architectural Record, in January 1902.

The difference a century and a major renovation makes! Who’s yawning now Mr. Shuyler?

There is an interesting article from 2006, by Christopher Gray in The New York Times about the Braender and one of its famous residents, Mrs. Winifred Sackville Stoner, which you can read here.

418, Central Park West

October 16th, 2016