A Big Celebration of Small Things: NanoDays

23 03 2012

We talked about NanoDays, a national celebration of nanoscience, last year on the blog. Well, it’s back and on Sunday we’re hosting our own NanoParty here at the Museum.  From noon until 5pm on Sunday, March 25th, museum educators will be presenting various hands on activities to teach concepts related to nanoscale science and engineering and its potential impact on the future.

Come to NanoDays and explore tiny science, such as polymer chains to make slime.

Advancements in nanoscience are popping up in the news with increasing frequency. It’s likely that you have used products that have been improved by nanoscale research. Did you know that many types of sunscreen use nanotechnology? And that wrinkle-free and stain-resistant clothing are so easy to care for because of their nanoscale makeup?

Get up close to some small stuff!

We found some interesting NanoNews articles that we’d like to share with you!

  • Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labratory have been studying how molecules might improve the performance of electronics. They recently made an experimental determination in which a molecule transferred an electrical charge to another molecule. Research with organic electronics have been used to make flexible display screens and solar cells. You can read more about this particular study here.
  • A group of nanoscientists from the Science Foundation Ireland have discovered a new material that could transform flat screen monitors for computers and televisions. The team is working closely with manufacturers who may be interested in using the finding in actual products. Find out more here.
  •  In nearby NanoNews, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and Virginia Tech have developed a vehicle inspired by a jellyfish to use for underwater rescue and surveillance missions. The “Robojelly” gets its energy from hydrogen and oxygen gas found in water – it doesn’t need batteries or electricity! The Robojelly is covered in artificial muscles that are made of a metal alloy wrapped in carbon nanotubes that is coated with platinum. Check out details here and watch the Robojelly in action!

Extra, Extra! Read All About Dinosaurs!

5 01 2012

Even though dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period, they’re still making headlines today. Here at the Austin Children’s Museum our feature exhibit, Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice is reaching it’s extinction point; the last day to stomp around with the “terrible lizards” is January 16th. That doesn’t mean that we’ll stop being fascinated by these  ancient creatures. Dinosaur discoveries are happening every day. Here are a few recent news items where dinos and their prehistoric pals made headlines:

Discovery News reports that a “Dinosaur Freeway” has been discovered in Colorado. The 98 million year-old highway consists of over 350 tracks from dinosaurs that traveled along what was then coastal plains. Read all about the discovery and how dinosaurs roamed by clicking this link.

A theropod dino foot from the exhibit.

– Across the pond in Germany, a prehistoric marine reptile from the order Ichthyosauria was found by a private collector looking for fossils alongside a (human) freeway construction site. German newspaper, the Local, describes the importance of the discovery – the newly unearthed reptile lived between 65 and 145 million years ago and up until its discovery, scientists had thought that the Ichthyosauria was extinct by then.

The Smithsonian reports that long before the first paleontologist sat behind a desk studying fossils, mysterious tracks and bones were shaping folklore around the world. As recently as the 1950’s, villagers in small Chinese towns had traded stories about mythical birds and creatures that traveled near the villages and brought good luck. Read the full article to learn how these folktales help paleontologists make new discoveries. 

Come visit the dinosaurs before they become extinct!

– Biologists and engineers at UC Berkeley are learning a thing or two about balance from dinosaurs and modern lizards. The research team tested a hypothesis that theropod dinosaurs used their tails to stabilize themselves while they ran and leaped. Students created a robot, named Tailbot, that uses its tail to keep balance. Find pictures and more information by reading the full article.

– And we’ll close out our dinosaur news cast with a heartwarming human interest story… a 4 year-old Canadian girl has found some internet fame with a video where she analyzes the inaccuracies of a model dinosaur in a toy shop. Her video got special attention from the Canadian Museum of Nature who sent her a more anatomically correct dinosaur model. Watch Stella explain why the triceratops toy is anything but and read about her interest in science over at the Ottowa Citizen’s site.


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