HMNS Weekly Happenings

Lecture – Archaeological Legacy of Poverty Point by Diana Greenlee

Factory-made modern cutting implements versus hand crafted, all natural paleo-cutlery (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory

Factory-made modern cutting implements versus hand crafted, all natural paleo-cutlery (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory

A remarkable earthworks complex that was built and occupied by American Indians from about 1700 to 1100 BCE in what is today northeast Louisiana is designated Poverty Point World Heritage Site. Some archaeologists refer to Poverty Point as the “New York City” of its day because it was so huge, sophisticated and out-of-character compared to everything else going on at that time. Trading hub, engineering marvel, monument to ingenuity—the original configuration included five earthen mounds; six nested, c-shaped, earthen ridges that served as the habitation area; and a flat interior plaza.

Although it is not the oldest or the largest mound complex in North America, it stands out as something special—a singularity—because of its scale and design, and because the people here lived by hunting, fishing and gathering wild foods. Also, because there was no naturally occurring rock at the site, tons of stone for tools and other objects were brought in over distances up to 800 miles. At Poverty Point, we can glimpse a reflection of humanity that no longer exists.

This program is co-sponsored by Fort Bend Archeological Society and Houston Archeological Society.

October 4, 2016 at 6:30pm

Tickets $18, Members $12


Coming Soon!

Lecture – Deep Life: The Hunt for Hidden Biology of Earth, Mars, and Beyond by Tullis Onstot

Photo by NASA

Photo by NASA

Taking us to the absolute limits of life–the biotic fringe–where scientists hope to discover the very origins of life itself, Dr. Tullis Onstott of Princeton University will explain how geomicrobiologists are helping the quest to find life in the solar system by going to uncharted regions deep beneath Earth’s crust. The recent discoveries of exotic subsurface life forms are helping understand the possibilities of life in the Universe. Book signing following lecture.

October 12, 2016 at 6:30pm 

Tickets $18, Members $12

Lecture – Houston and the Civil Rights Movement by Rev. William Lawson



On the forefront of the Civil Rights movement, Reverend William Lawson and his wife Audrey founded Houston’s Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church in their home in 1962 while he was serving as Professor of Bible at the new Texas Southern University. Join Rev. Lawson in conversation with his daughter Melanie Lawson for special evening recounting key moments in his campaign for civil liberties, including organizing Houstonians to travel to the March on Washington and his friendship and working relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

October 17th, at 6:30pm

Tickets $18, Members $12


Get a LIFE: Happy (almost) 60th anniversary to the magazine that launched a thousand dino geeks

Some people like to tell me, “Dr. Bob, get a life!”

I did, 60 years ago. Here I am re-reading my battered copy of the magazine that got me hooked on paleontology.

Celebrating Life!
Happy anniversary to the LIFE magazine that created … me!

Sept. 7, 1953 was the publication date of the greatest, most momentous article on fossils and the history of life. LIFE issued its glorious “The World We Live In” series with a cover story about the prehistoric safari. Stegosaurus and Brontosaurus loomed large on the opening page. There were trilobites too, full-page photos, and scenes from the Texas Red Beds. Then came Triassic dinos, Jurassic dinos, Cretaceous dinos, and the ocean-going reptiles who filled the warm tropical seas of the Mesozoic. There were evolutionary opportunists, the conquering furballs of the Paleocene Epoch, who rushed with Darwinian speed to fill the voids left by dinosaur extinction. Prominent furry mammals included the the famous “Saber-toothed Vegans”, six-horned Uintatheres, followed by Killer Warthogs like our mounted skeleton of Archaeotherium. Finally, the LIFE story reached a crescendo with the Ice Age behemoths: mastodons, mammoths and saber-toothed cats.

But what hooked my fourth-grade mind wasnʼt merely the monster parade of weird and wondrous beasts. It was the story. LIFE writer Lincoln Barnett explained how chromosomes and habitats cooperated in manufacturing new species. How we could see desert lizards evolving right now in Americaʼs Southwest. And how Birds of Paradise exemplified the power of sexual selection to transform bodies and behavior.

The fossil history became even more wonderful because we could understand what shaped the successive waves of creatures who swept across land and sea, dominated the ecosystems, and then suffered catastrophic die-offs to make room for the next surge of evolution. Barnettʼs prose was graceful and riveting (he wrote an award-winning biography of Einstein for kids). Many other budding scientists owe their careers to Barnett and to Life.

We should never underestimate the extraordinary power of fine science journalism. As a 9-year-old, I read and re-read that LIFE magazine in my Granddadʼs solarium. Then I said to myself, “Wow, thatʼs the best story I ever read. Best story I could imagine.” At dinner, I announced to my startled parents, “Iʼm gonna grow up to be a paleontologist and dig up the history of the world!”

After a polite pause, Mom remarked “Thatʼs nice dear … itʼs a phase and youʼll outgrow it.”

(She still says that.)

Celebrating Life!
Hereʼs an unapologetic plug to buy this issue of LIFE. We see here a scene
from the middle of the narrative. A Late Jurassic Allosaurus is feeding on
the rump of a brontosaur. The painting is by Rudy Zallinger and was based
on the skeletons at New York — the museum there dug a brontosaur with
severe tooth marks on the bones, bites that matched the jaws of an
allosaur dug from the same strata not far away.

Do check your used book stores for this issue of LIFE. They are out there, but delicate since the paper is hi-acid. The paleo-issue was bound together with other special LIFE numbers on nature as a hard-cover, “The World We Live In.” There was a kidsʼ edition of the book, too, and a Golden Book version of the fossil story.

Life: A New Series from the Discovery Channel

Morning Dew
Creative Commons License photo credit: Aaron Escobar ♦ (the spaniard)™

Planet Earth was an unprecedented series that took us on an incredible Journey. It unveiled some of the most fantastic sites and most amazing phenomena on our planet. I had to be one of the first to purchase the series and spent many nights curled up on my couch watching episodes. when I heard that Discovery was coming out with a brand new series called “Life”, I was so excited. Then, when I found out that I was invited to a special screening of the first episode at the River Oaks Landmark theater, I was ecstatic! In my opinion, there is no entertainment that provides the drama, excitement, suspense, and even comedy that nature delivers. Plus, what better use for our high definition flat screen TVs than to capture the brilliant colors and awe inspiring scenery of our planet. So, sign me up for more of that!

Creative Commons License photo credit: kevinzim

The first episode of the “Life” series is called “Challenges of Life” and it airs Sunday evening at 8 pm eastern/7 pm central. This is the episode I had the pleasure of viewing! I think it was a great introduction to the series and definitely left you wanting to see more! Discovery masterfully captured on film how the highly adapted thought processes and behaviors of plants and animals allow them to survive on a constantly changing planet. Predators and prey have to think and act fast to either get their next meal or avoid being someone else’s!  Competition for mates is higher than ever, giving rise to some of the most fantastic displays, graceful dances, and fierce battles. I loved how we weren’t only shown predators dominating their prey, but also animals creatively outsmarting their pursuers and barely escaping.

Strawberry dart frog
Creative Commons License photo credit: sly06

The makers of Planet earth show you everything from cheetahs finding a new way to hunt, to flying fish, to the amazing perseverance of the little strawberry poison dart frog. I was pleased to also see an insect that I know relatively little about, the stalk eyed fly. I have to admit, I even found what these flies do to compete for females, well, weird! I really don’t want to give too much away. This episode promises a series full of wonder and surprises, I was even surprised by the narrator. I can’t wait to see the others! If you liked the Planet Earth series I hope you’ll tune in or at least set your DVRs to the Discovery channel at 8 pm eastern. I know I will!

Science Doesn’t Sleep (4.21.08)

So here’s what went down since you logged off.

And the award for “least appetizing food product” goes to…PETA! For introducing the concept of “in vitro meat.” If you can produce it – in “commerically viable quantities” – you could win $1 million.

Alexandria may be the new Venice. Rising sea levels are already threatening the city’s ancient structures, and scientists expect they will continue rise there by at least 1 – 3 feet by the end of the 21st century.


Modern cowboy
Ignacio Hsantillian.
(c) Robb Kendrick and
Bright Sky Press

Think the concept of energy is hard to define? Take a stab at “life” – there are more than 280 definitions on record already, and scientists are still arguing about which is best.

Researchers at the University of Manchester have created the world’s smallest working transistor, smaller than a single molecule – out of one crystal of graphene.

Still waiting for that flying car The Jetsons’ promised would be waiting for you just a few short years into the future? Too bad. Check out what scientists think will actually happen in the next 50 years.

Local arts blog Bayou Dawn points us to an interesting profile of photographer Robb Kendrick in the New York Times. Right now, Kendrick’s amazingly evocative cowboy tintypes are on display right here at HMNS.