Posts tagged Science

817 posts tagged Science

New Research: Hints of Gravitational Waves in the Stars
Scientists have shown how gravitational waves—invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe—might be “seen” by looking at the stars. The new model, developed in part by researchers at the Museum, proposes that a star that oscillates at the same frequency as a gravitational wave will absorb energy from that wave and brighten, an overlooked prediction of Einstein’s 1916 theory of general relativity. The study, which was published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, contradicts previous assumptions about the behavior of gravitational waves.
Read the full story. 

New Research: Hints of Gravitational Waves in the Stars

Scientists have shown how gravitational waves—invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe—might be “seen” by looking at the stars. The new model, developed in part by researchers at the Museum, proposes that a star that oscillates at the same frequency as a gravitational wave will absorb energy from that wave and brighten, an overlooked prediction of Einstein’s 1916 theory of general relativity. The study, which was published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, contradicts previous assumptions about the behavior of gravitational waves.

Read the full story

This year, autumn arrives in the northern hemisphere at 10:29 pm ET the evening of Monday, September 22. 
With summer’s official conclusion in the northern hemisphere, cooler temperatures and less hazy skies gradually will allow clearer nighttime sky watching. Although solar system objects such as the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter are easily seen even from Manhattan, fainter planets and stars are certainly best viewed from darker sites.
Check out information for finding these darker locales. 

This year, autumn arrives in the northern hemisphere at 10:29 pm ET the evening of Monday, September 22. 

With summer’s official conclusion in the northern hemisphere, cooler temperatures and less hazy skies gradually will allow clearer nighttime sky watching. Although solar system objects such as the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter are easily seen even from Manhattan, fainter planets and stars are certainly best viewed from darker sites.

Check out information for finding these darker locales

Madagascar’s rainy season is relentless. Unpaved roads turn to mud. Rivers flood. Feet start to blister from constant dampness. Humidity permeates everything, soaking maps, seeping into GPS units, attacking cameras and other electronic equipment. So why did herpetologists Christopher Raxworthyand Sara Ruane schedule their latest expedition to the island for January and February, at the height of the wet season? 

“When I first came to Madagascar in 1985, there was very little practical knowledge about reptiles and amphibians anywhere, and most people were coming out in October or September,” says Raxworthy, who is associate curator in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology. “I remember talking to one of the really good local guides, and I asked him—when do you think is the best time to come out and look for chameleons, frogs, and snakes? He said, the middle of the rainy season. Since then, I’ve gone to Madagascar during the peak rainy season, and that’s made all the difference.” 

Read more on the Museum blog and listen to a conversation with Chris Raxworthy

Wildlife Preservations founder George Dante drew this sketch of the pose portrayed in Lonesome George’s taxidermy mount. 
© AMNH/C. Chesek
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Conservation and taxidermy experts unpack Lonesome George upon his arrival from the Galapagos at the American Museum of Natural History in July 2012. 
© AMNH/D. Finnin
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In the early stages of the taxidermy process, multiple casts of Lonesome George’s	extremities were taken for future reference.
© AMNH/D. Finnin
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Eleanor Sterling, chief conservation scientist for the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (right) and Wildlife Preservations founder George Dante. 
© AMNH/C. Chesek
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One of the final steps in the taxidermy process is producing a clay sculpture that defines the musculature and shape of the animal. 
© AMNH/D. Finnin
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Lonesome George is on view in the Museum’s 4th floor Astor Turret through January 4, 2015. 
©AMNH/D. Finnin
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More than 20,000 species of plants and animals around the world are currently under threat of extinction, and hundreds vanish each year. We don’t always know the exact time of extinction, but for the Pinta Island giant tortoise, the date was June 24, 2012.

On that day, Lonesome George—the Galapagos Island tortoise now on display at the American Museum of Natural History, and the last known member of his species—died of natural causes. With him, his species, Chelonoidis abingdoni, vanished.

Over the last two years, Wildlife Preservations taxidermy experts have worked closely with Museum scientists to preserve Lonesome George as he appeared in life—down to a missing toenail on his left front foot.

Watch a video about the preservation process, and learn much more about Lonesome George

Happy #FossilFriday! Meet the phytosaur Machaeroprosopus gregorii, or “knife-face.”
Some phytosaurs reached gigantic size, and this specimen was probably over 40 feet long! Phytosaurs were clearly carnivorous: in a few specimens, bones of other reptiles have been found as stomach contents. Machaeroprosopus lived 210 million years ago, and was collected near Cameron, Arizona in 1936. 
This specimen is located in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins. 

Happy #FossilFriday! Meet the phytosaur Machaeroprosopus gregorii, or “knife-face.”

Some phytosaurs reached gigantic size, and this specimen was probably over 40 feet long! Phytosaurs were clearly carnivorous: in a few specimens, bones of other reptiles have been found as stomach contents. Machaeroprosopus lived 210 million years ago, and was collected near Cameron, Arizona in 1936. 

This specimen is located in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins

We’re welcoming the weekend with Lonesome George.
Be among the first visitors to see the famous Pinta Island tortoise who was the last of his kind when he died in 2012. Lonesome George will be on display at the Museum till January 4, 2015, when he will be returned to Ecuador as part of that country’s national patrimony.
Interesting stories from the past week:
See the fossil finds from a recent expedition to the Gobi Desert.
Black widows are among the few spider species harmful to people.
In a "bachelor band" of bighorn sheep, horn and body size determine rank.
Watch a trailer for Jalanan, featured in the 2014 Margaret Mead Film Festival.
Have a wonderful weekend!

We’re welcoming the weekend with Lonesome George.

Be among the first visitors to see the famous Pinta Island tortoise who was the last of his kind when he died in 2012. Lonesome George will be on display at the Museum till January 4, 2015, when he will be returned to Ecuador as part of that country’s national patrimony.

Interesting stories from the past week:

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Fieldwork Journal: Back Home

Jack Tseng and Camille Grohé, postdoctoral fellows in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, have been blogging from the field during an expedition to Inner Mongolia. Now that they are back in New York City, they’ve been going over the fruits of their labor from the two and a half weeks in the Gobi.

Read a rundown of the most significant discoveries they made during the trip, including many exciting fossils and remnants from a previous Museum expedition. 

Read the full story on the Museum blog.

Ever wonder what it’s like to work in a tropical rainforest? Or what ancient DNA is? Or how scientists are using specimens collected in the late 1800s to study extinct birds?

Then get your questions ready for #AskACurator day on Twitter! 

Dr. Brian Smith, an assistant curator of ornithology in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, will be answering your queries on September 17 from 3 to 4 pm EDT. Just tweet your questions to @amnh using the hashtag #AskaCurator.

His research focuses on the evolution of birds, and particularly on  the avian tree of life.  Just last week, his research about the speciation of birds in the Neotropics was published in the journal Nature. 

Learn more about #AskACurator day and about Dr. Brian Smith.

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Western Black WidowLatrodectus hesperus

Spiders of the genus Latrodectus are found worldwide, and in North America, black widows are among the few species harmful to people. Still, they’re web builders that stay in their retreats day and night. If you see one outside its web, it’s likely a male in search of a female. That trip can end badly. As their name suggests, female black widows sometimes eat males after mating.

Check me out: If I have a red hourglass on my underside, I’m a widow spider.

Species Range: From Canada to the warmer regions of the western U.S. and south to Mexico

Habitat: Terrestrial; crevices, including those in and around houses

Should you worry? Yes. I’m shy and my fangs are small, but my venom is potent. Black widow venom contains powerful chemicals called neurotoxins, including one specific to vertebrates like us. Once injected, the venom may flood nerve endings with chemical signals, causing paralysis. 

Unlikely to Bite: Black widows are shy and tend not to bite humans unless disturbed. Most bites involve such a small amount of venom that the victim survives.

See the Western Black Widow in Spiders Alive! open now. 

Bighorn Sheep - September Morning, Alberta, Canada
Stalwart symbols of mountain wilderness, a “bachelor band” of bighorn sheep stands before Mount Athabasca in the Canadian Rockies. Male sheep older than two years leave their mothers to follow a leading ram. Horn and body size determine rank, so the leader of this band is certainly the ram on the right. 
Equally sized males may duel to secure their rank. Rivals will repeatedly face off, charge and then crash horns until one loses balance and concedes. During the mating season, when rams fight for ewes, battles are even more violent. The collisions will echo across the ravines of the Rockies, and some contenders will even be pushed off the edge.
This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. 

Bighorn SheepSeptember Morning, Alberta, Canada

Stalwart symbols of mountain wilderness, a “bachelor band” of bighorn sheep stands before Mount Athabasca in the Canadian Rockies. Male sheep older than two years leave their mothers to follow a leading ram. Horn and body size determine rank, so the leader of this band is certainly the ram on the right. 

Equally sized males may duel to secure their rank. Rivals will repeatedly face off, charge and then crash horns until one loses balance and concedes. During the mating season, when rams fight for ewes, battles are even more violent. The collisions will echo across the ravines of the Rockies, and some contenders will even be pushed off the edge.

This diorama is located in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals

Hey everyone, the weekend is here! Flap your wings all the way to the Museum to learn about birds, migrations, and another flying phenom: pterosaurs!
Here are some cool links from the past week: 
Fossils of new squirrel-like species support earlier origin of mammals.
New research has identified drivers of rich bird diversity in the Neotropics.
Making a last dash to the beach? Search for these shells. 
Jack Tseng on the friends and foes you find in the Gobi desert. 
This week saw the last Super Moon of 2014.
The Margaret Mead Film Festival Returns this October!
Have a great weekend! 

Hey everyone, the weekend is here! Flap your wings all the way to the Museum to learn about birds, migrations, and another flying phenom: pterosaurs!

Here are some cool links from the past week: 

Have a great weekend! 

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