Dino Days 2010 and the Create-a-saurus Contest for kids!

Dino Days is just around the corner here at the Museum and we’re getting pretty excited! The event is free with admission to the Museum’s permanent exhibit halls from 11am-3pm on Saturday, November 6. That means totally FREE for all of you members out there! We even have some special guests from Houston PBS coming to share with us their new show Dinosaur Train featuring some cute young dinosaurs traveling around learning about Dinosaurs and their habitats!

Paleontology Hall 2

Join the Dino Days fun before the event by entering our Create-a-saurus coloring Contest!!
We’ll be awarding some really cool prizes and featuring the finalists here on the BeyondBones blog. Download the Create A Saurus Page – you can download and print out as many copies as you like: teachers, make this a class project; parent’s – get your kids excited to attend Dino Days by coloring your sheet early and bringing it with you.

Here are the Create-a-saurus contest rules:

  1. Contest open to kids ages 0-12
  2. Final entry dimensions must be no larger than 8.5” x 11” x 0.25”, entries will not be returned to artists.
  3. Winners will be selected by a panel of Museum staff members and volunteers. Immediate family members of HMNS staff members are not eligible to enter.
  4. Entries must be turned in to the “Create-a-saurus” table at Dino Days during the hours of the event 11am-3pm on November 6th or postmarked by November 4, 2010 (Mailed entries should be sent to “HMNS Education Department, 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030”)
  5. By entering the contest you give permission for your artwork, first name and age to be displayed or reproduced by HMNS
  6. Winning entries will be posted on the HMNS BeyondBones blog with the artist’s first name and age – winners will be responsible for contacting HMNS staff member noted in the post announcing the winners to claim their prize before December 15, 2010. One (1) grand prize winner will receive a Museum Family Membership, three (3) winners (one for each age bracket (0-3, 4-8, 9-12)) will be awarded honorable mention and receive a set of four (4) Museum passes. Questions regarding these rules or the Create-a-saurus contest please contact Allison Kellogg akellogg@hmns.org for more information.

We can’t wait to see you at Dino Days and introduce you to our awesome world of Paleo-fun!

The Frustrating Science of Earthquake Prediction

Today our guest blogger is Dr. Stephen Malone, a Research Professor Emeritus, from the University of Washington. In today’s post, Dr. Malone discusses the predictability of earthquakes and volcanoes. He will be giving an in depth lecture on the topic at Rice University on Tuesday, November 16 at 5:30 p.m.

While there are many successful cases of reliably predicting volcanic eruptions, the case for predicting earthquakes is not encouraging.   Thus far science has not developed reliable techniques or tools to predict earthquakes.  Despite this situation the press and public often expect or even demand predictions.  The pressure on seismologists increased recently when a criminal law suit was brought against several Italian seismologists and civil protection officials for not predicting the devastating L’Aquila earthquake of spring, 2009 in which 300 people died.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Waifer X

What is a seismologist to do? Actually, for most of us, trying to predict specific earthquakes is not high on our priority list for current research topics.  Research into the fundamental physics of the earthquake source is basic to many projects and some day may lead to successful predictions.  Volcanoes, on the other hand, are quite cooperative in giving fairly easy-to-recognize indications of approaching violence.  Signs of unrest are usually first recognized by seismologists giving us a smug feeling of understanding a complex geophysical phenomenon better than our fellow earth scientists.  Of course, volcanoes throw a variety of eruption precursory signs out that can result in a variety of types of eruptions.  Just when we think we understand what is going on things change to surprise us.  Still, eruption prediction is maturing and it is gratifying to know that our science is being used to actually save lives.

1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Unfortunately, earthquakes are far more hazardous than volcanoes since strong ones can occur in many parts of the world, particularly places where earthquake resistant building construction is not up to the task.  Attempts to predict specific earthquakes are many, yet it seems that no more than would be expected from random chance are successful.   There are a few lines of inquiry that may provide for slight improvement in the statistical success of prediction, but most of us hate claiming success based on the statistics of small numbers.

In the last ten years a new geophysical phenomenon has been discovered that may help us to understand the source of large earthquakes and therefore contribute to future successful predictions.  This phenomenon is called “Episodic Tremor and Slip” (ETS).  First discovered in Japan using a new generation of very sensitive seismographs, we have also detected it in the US, first in the Pacific Northwest and then in Alaska and California.  This very subtle phenomenon may be much more pervasive than first thought, and may lead us to a very new and better understanding of the earthquake initiation process.  ETS can be seen both seismically and geodetically and thus requires the cooperation of different science communities to really understand it.

This potpourri of prediction science will be covered in much more detail at Rice University on Tuesday, November 16, 2010.  To RSVP or for questions, please contact Janice Trojan at Janice.trojan@rice.edu or 713-348-5824.

Wiess School of Natural Sciences
Dean’s Lecture Series
Predicting Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions: What we can and can’t do
Dr. Stephen Malone, Research Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
Tuesday, November 16 @ 5:30pm
Rice University
Duncan Hall – McMurtry Auditorium

Where do we go from here

“The battle’s done and we kinda won, so we’ll sound our victory cheer. Where do we go from here” – Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Oct 13, 2010 – The Deepwater oil ban was lifted by the President, but what does it mean? On the surface, it would seem that deepwater drilling off the Gulf would get back to normal. As always, reality is far different. A number of different environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, think it’s too soon to lift the ban. Some drilling companies fear that even though the ban has been lifted, the new regulations and red tape will prevent them from being able to drill. So what does the lifting of the ban and the new regulations really mean?

On April 30th, the President issued a moratorium on offshore drilling based open depth, meaning that companies could not drill new wells at depths greater than 500 feet. This did not stop the wells that were already producing. It also did not stop new wells or modification of existing wells that had obtained their permits before the moratorium went into effect. What happened next is what almost happens with every new law, it was challenged in court. Judge Feldman ruled that the moratorium was overly broad and would harm the Gulf Economy.

A 2nd offshore drilling moratorium was put into place. This time it applied to any deep water facilities with drilling capabilities. And again, as soon as the law was in place it was challenged in court. The 2nd moratorium was to be in effect till November 30, but it was listed October 12, nearly 7 weeks early.

Does that mean that offshore drilling has taken off? No. No it does not. Now there are new regulations that must be met. Some of the new regulations include making the CEO responsible for making sure the well has met all the safety requirements and having equipment on site to help contain a blowout, if one should occur. Companies are waiting for a final list of the new regulations. Some environmental organizations are unhappy with how quickly the moratorium has been lifted, but some congressmen are unhappy about the moratorium effect’s on the jobs in the Gulf. Many of the offshore drilling platforms have left the Gulf for more profitable waters.

Family Night at HMNS!

This fall, we’re exploring the fascinating histories of people: the diverse variety you would have met along the Silk Road, the motley crew of a famous pirate ship, and the hopeful migrants who arrived in America through Galveston Island.

During Family Night on Monday, Oct. 25 and Tuesday, Oct. 26, from 5 – 8 pm each night, you can meet them all – for reduced entrance fees!

Secrets of the Silk Road – $5 per person
This historic exhibition of 150 objects from China reveals surprising details about the people who lived along the ancient Silk Road. For the first time ever, two of the more than 100 Caucasian mummies found and preserved in the western China’s inhospitable desert sands are being presented in the United States. An impressive array of objects are included in the exhibition to represent the full extent of the Silk Road, where lavish goods, technologies and ideas between East and West were adopted and exchanged.

Preview the Silk Road exhibit in this video!
See more videos from the Silk Road exhibit on Vimeo.

Real Pirates! – $6 per person
Dive into the wreck of the Whydah to discover the true stories of Real Pirates through more than 200 fascinating artifacts in the world’s first exhibition of authentic pirate treasure! Touch real pirate gold and marvel at gold and silver coins from all over the world, cannons, swords, and pistols along with the ship’s massive bell, and discover the advanced technology that revealed these treasures to the modern world.

Real Pirates at HMNS
Climb aboard a replica of a real pirate ship!
See photos from the Real Pirates exhibit on Flickr.

Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America Through Galveston Island – $3 per person
From 1845 to 1924, the Port of Galveston was a major gateway to American immigration. This exhibition is the first of its kind to explore Galveston’s legacy as a port of entry on a national scale. It brings to light the little-known yet rich era of Galveston’s history and importance to the growth of Texas and the American Midwest. While New York’s Ellis Island’s location made it a natural port for Europeans, Galveston attracted a diverse group of people from Europe, Mexico, South and Central America and even Asia.

All of these exhibits include entry to the permanent exhibits at HMNS. You can also see a planetarium show for just $2.50 per person during this event!

Hope to see you there!

Family Night at HMNS!
Monday, Oct. 25, 2010
Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010
5 – 8 pm