The Foucault Pendulum, a long-time favorite at the old Academy, returns as the first exhibit to be installed in the new Academy’s east wing.
Its first swings demonstrated that yes, in fact, Earth is still rotating (whew!). So how exactly does a pendulum demonstrate Earth’s rotation? Find out here.
In the video clip below, the 235-pound brass ball (called a “bob”) has been set in motion for its first test run. It swings constantly in the same direction, while the Earth rotates beneath it. So as the day goes by, the pendulum knocks down pins one by one (seen in the foreground), demonstrating that over the course of 24 hours, the Academy’s floor turns about 220 degrees. At the North Pole, the floor would turn a full 360 degrees in 24 hours, but at San Francisco’s latitude, we see a 220 degree turn. To get your mind around that one, check out this helpful illustration.
Below is the Academy’s original Foucault Pendulum, built in 1951. Since then, the Academy has built 97 other pendulums for museums, universities, etc. all over the world.
This is one of those stories that you won’t find anywhere but the California Academy of Sciences…this week, a small team of volunteers started the process of sewing 150 or so custom-fit bags to protect the Ornithology & Mammalogy department’s collection of antlers and skulls.
Below, from left to right, here’s how one begins crafting an “antler bag” (whether you’re sewing something for a child, your home, or an elk, it’s a remarkably similar process):
1. Record the skull’s dimensions.
2. Cut a first draft of the pattern from butcher paper. Hold it up to the skull to see how the bag will fit, and adjust as needed. The elk (Cervus elaphus) skull pictured in the second photo is from 1913, and is one of the largest in the collection.
3. Using the final pattern, cut the pieces from archival muslin fabric, which will protect the specimens while in storage.
The sewing is taking place as we speak…more to come once the bags are ready to “wear.” Meanwhile, check out this incredible story about how some creative sewing helped our penguin Pierre re-grow his feathers.
Curious about how the Lagoon’s new inhabitants are faring? Diego, an 80-pound green sea turtle, joined the blacktip reef sharks and rays in the Lagoon about three weeks ago and it took a little while for the other animals to get to know the “new guy.”
Diego’s caretakers say he’s a bit like a big lumbering puppy – curious about everything. At first, when Diego would swim toward the rays, they tended to scatter out of the way (eighty pounds of innocent curiosity might startle you too!). But now that they’ve spent a few weeks together, the rays have grown used to having Diego around and are not so surprised by his neighborly visits.
For a closer look at how the Lagoon’s residents and research collections are making their way to Golden Gate Park, check out this recent QUEST radio story, accompanied by a great slideshow:
On Tuesday, penguins Dunker and Pete took a first look at their new digs in Golden Gate Park. Pam Schaller, one of our senior aquatic biologists, took the two young African penguins over to the new Academy to observe their reactions to the new space. She watched to see how they navigated the nooks and crannies in the rockwork, and how they entered and exited the 25,000-gallon tank.
Pam donned a wetsuit and stationed herself in the chilly 50-degree water, encouraging the birds to take a dip. After some brief hesitation, they jumped right in. The trial run was deemed a success and afterward, Dunker and Pete headed back to Howard Street, where they and the rest of the colony are still living. Once the new exhibit is completely ready in African Hall, the entire colony will move together. Be the first to know when new updates are posted by subscribing to our RSS feed.