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’Tis the Season for Science
November 23, 2010
An array of wintry festivities, a pair of live reindeer, and seasonal decor have transformed the Academy into an Arctic wonderland this winter! From November 23 – January 2, enjoy festive music and dance performances, indoor snow flurries, and a variety of polar- and holiday-themed programs and hands-on activities. If you have ever wondered what causes the northern lights, what “mistletoe” actually means, or how polar bears survive such harsh winters, this is your chance to find out.
With a mug of hot chocolate in hand, catch scientist interviews, performances, and games of “Polar Jeopardy” in the piazza against a backdrop of stunning Arctic imagery, taken by photographer Subhankar Banerjee in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These special programs explore wintry themes like migration, adaptations for extreme cold, research in some of Earth’s most frigid climates, and even sustainable gift-giving. Short presentations inside an igloo dome reveal even more of the stark, vast beauty of the North Pole, including the aurora borealis, ice caps, and winter sky.
In the east garden, meet a pair of live reindeer (known as caribou in North America) and learn more about these antlered herbivores during a daily “Reindeer Rendezvous” program. (Read about them on the Fly on the Wall blog.) Young visitors can also greet “Santa Claude,” the Academy’s lovable alligator mascot, and learn how animals keep warm on a special scavenger hunt.
Here, in this redwood grove, we find an astonishing variety of species, woven into an elaborate tapestry of life…
And we are a part of it.
You and I and these trees—indeed, all living things—are related. Distant cousins who share a common origin.
We’ve grown up together, evolved together. We depend on one another.”
Thoughtful and reverent, these are the first words you hear from narrator Jodie Foster in Life: A Cosmic Story, the Academy’s new planetarium show.
This immersive, all-digital production opens in a grove of towering redwood trees—some of our most majestic relatives. The family resemblance may be hard to see, but we share a common ancestor, and a quick dive into the cells of a single leaf reveals that our building blocks are the same. How did those building blocks first combine to form life? To find that answer, you’ll be launched on a journey through 13.7 billion years, witnessing key events since the Big Bang that set the stage for life. Before your eyes, the first stars will ignite, galaxies will coalesce, and entire worlds will take shape. On the early Earth, you’ll explore two scenarios for the dawn of life: one near a deep-sea hydrothermal vent, and the other in a primordial “hot puddle” on a volcanic island. By the time the show ends 25 minutes later, you’ll have a new appreciation for the connectedness of all living things on Earth.
Watch the trailer below:
Life: A Cosmic Story is now playing 7-10 times a day, every day through late 2011. Pick up your show passes at the planetarium kiosk (opposite the giraffes).