Really thrilled to continue seeing the American Museum of Natural History series Shelf Life. I blogged about this series earlier on in the year and they have kept to their word with interesting and unique instalments.
In Episode 6 we get to hear about micropaleontology, the study of fossil specimens that are so tiny you cannot see them with the naked eye. The scientist and researchers tell us about foramnifera, unicellular organisms belonging to the kingdom Protista and which go back to about 65 million years. In spite of being unicellular, they make shells! And this is indeed what makes it possible for them to become fossilised.
Interestingly enough these fossils allow us to used them as ways to tell something about ancient climate data. As Roberto Moncada pointed out to me:
According to our expert in the piece, basically every representational graph you’ve ever seen of climate/temperatures from the Earth’s past is derived from analyzing these tiny little creatures.
The Tiniest Fossils are indeed among the most important for climate research!
If you happen to have a chance to visit Bletchley Park do not miss the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Computing where you will be able to see a large collection of computers of all sizes and ages. A recent addition is the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH which came back to like on November 20th, 2012.
The Harwell Dekatron or WITCH is the World’s oldest original working digital computer dating from 1951. WITCH is an acronym that stands for Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell. The computer aquired this name when, in 1957, it was offered in a competition to an educational establishment. The competition was won by the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire College of Technology.
The machine uses “dekatrons” for its volatile memory (think of is as RAM) and it works on a decimal system, as opposed to the binary. The dekatrons are visible and thus one can literally see the state of the memory when the machine is operating. This sounds great when trying to explain how a computer works!
More information can be obtained here
If you ever doubt the beauty of the little corner of the Universe in which we live, you just have to take a look at this film. It was developed by the American Museum of Natural History.
It shows us the known Universe as mapped through astronomical observations. Enjoy!
I had an excellent evening at the Natural History Museum visiting “The Deep” exhibition.