Feb 19, 2018

Houston Natural Science Musuem

The Houston Natural Science Museum has 16 permanent exhibitions including the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and a giant screen theater.  The first hall we entered had a variety of marine animals models hanging from the ceiling along with a video cam on the wall of  that made it
look like people were in a seal aquarium habitat. It was popular with the children because they could “walk up to the seals” and watch the seals dive in the water to get out of their way. A fun exhibit. The Museum is also home to the world’s largest snail shell which at 30 inches in length makes me want to never run into the snail that made its home there in that shell.

There is always something new and unique to see in museums.  It was the
first time I had ever seen or heard of sand concretions. Concretions are compact, often rounded, accumulations of mineral matter that form inside sedimentary rock.  The one at the museum was beautiful enough to qualify as modern art. The paleontology exhibit is
always interesting. The displays of Triceratops, Stegosaurus and other dinosaurs are displayed in active poses as if hunting instead of just standing in a row.

The newest exhibit, the Wiess Energy Hall on the fourth floor, includes comprehensive and technologically advanced exhibits on science and energy.  When we got off the elevator we faced a 21st century offshore drilling rig run by sci-fi robots.  There were many unique exhibits including a “Geovator”
that takes visitors on a fantastic reality voyage plunging down through the Museum floors into the earth back a few million years to the time when the critters that roamed the earth lived and died. They would over eons turn into petroleum called Texas Tea or Texas Gold. Very cool!  There was another virtual reality experience called the Eagle Ford Shale Experience (EFX 3000). We sat in a large vehicle that simulated a ride to the oil and gas drilling country then reduced us to microscopic size so we could go down into a borehole of an oil well where the craft was so small it could get into the narrow spaces of a hydraulic mico-fracture.  

There was a huge “Energy City, with 3-D landscape of Houston and the surrounding Gulf coastal area that pinpointed various types of energy (nuclear, water, wind, gas, oil, solar, etc.) and how the energy was delivered to the community. There were several fun hands on activities plus the “Energy Jukebox” a collection of ten catchy songs that explore topics including conservation, renewable energy, biomass, hydrogen power, nuclear fission, oil, natural gas, unconventional hydrocarbons, electricity and thermonuclear fusion.

We spent so much time there we didn’t have a lot of time to explore. We did a quick walk through the Cabinet of Curiosities with extraordinary natural and man made objects were displayed in drawers of cabinets and the Hall of Texas Wildlife highlighting the various biomes of the state.  On the way out we watched a group of young boys entranced with the Foucault Pendulum. It is a visual demonstration of the earth’s rotation. The direction of the pendulum appears to swing but actually the earth is turning under it. As the earth moves the pendulum knocks down pins lined up in a circle on the floor.  It is mesmerizing. There is always so much to learn and understand. Now, if I could just remember everything I learn!