04 December 2012

New York City - The Museum of Natural History

New York City - Day One.

After a ridiculous nights sleep (jet lag...) after arriving the day before, I was somewhat ready to tackle New York City first thing in the morning! I had actually made it to New York City! Simply put, it was awesome. Considering the amount of time remaining on this trip before I planned to return home I figured I had about 7 days, perhaps 10, to spend here before having to move on. Let's hope that that is enough time!

I kind of don't know what words to write to be honest, without sounding like a terribly broken record, constantly repeating things along the lines of "wow I can't believe I'm here!" so... I will keep text to a minimum and let the pictures do most of the talking.

Stepping out of my hostel on 88th St on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Very cool indeed.

It may or may not have been a coincidence that my hostel just happened to be just around the corner from one of my most must-see places on my entire trip; the Museum of Natural History!

The Museum of Natural History. Here in the flesh at long last.
It is no surprise that I enjoy museums, in fact every single major city I have been to on this entire trip I have made sure to visit their main museum attraction. I was trying to think of which has been my favourite one so far... but I can't decide, either way this museum's reputation is without a doubt well deserved... it was truly amazing.

I'm In!
Immediately upon buying my tickets I signed up for the free walking tour offered. Best. Time. Ever. The tour guy was simply awesome, and over the following two hours he explained in amazing detail and creativity about half of what the museum had in store (the place is massive, you can't get through it in only two hours). Wow what fun it was, to soak in so much knowledge about a huge variety of topics.

My first (and favourite room) was the Haydon Room, which highlighted the size scale of objects throughout our world and universe from the astronomical (galaxies and stars), to the classical (buildings on Earth, us humans), to the atomic level(virus strains, atoms) and everything in between. It was simply brilliant.

Focusing on the astronomical scale
This is a to scale representation of the solar system, with that huge sphere on the left our sun.
All the way down to the atomic scale!
The huge sphere you saw in the image wasn't just used as a scaled version of the sun, but was used throughout the entire room as a reference point of size. Sometimes it represented the size of the sun, other times the size of Earth, a rain drop, a strain of virus, and even down to the size of a Hydrogen atom, all to help you better visualize the astronomical, classical, and atomic scale. Amazing.

I spent quite some time in that room.

Below are some other random shots throughout my wanderings.

A real asteroid. It weighed something like 44 tonnes, and the floor beneath it had to be reinforced to support its weight.
One of the worlds largest, and oldest, ever trees. Sadly of which was cut down in I think the 1930's. I believe from memory it was around 2000 years old. Amazing.
Of particular brilliance was the Oceanography room, consisting of extremely detailed and varied array of information and diagrams of everything from marine life, to the life cycle of the oceans, its ecosystems, and so much more. Not to mention what I thought was one of the most impressive items of the entire museum... the gigantic sized Blue Whale model hanging from the ceiling... wow!

Entering the oceanography room... I was in awe before I even stepped through the door
How cool is that! Believe me it is even more impressive in person, the thing was absolutely huge and highly detailed.
And of course whenever I'm in a museum, if I'm not in the Astronomy room, you'll find me in the Archeology section.

We spent I think 40 minutes in these rooms whilst on the tour, the guide had amazing knowledge and facts at his disposals. Every few steps we would stop, this was by far the most informative tour I've ever been on, I loved it.

Oh yeah, fun fact! Because, as I've always said, this blog is both entertaining and educational!

So have you ever wondered what actually classifies something is, or is not, a 'dinosaur'? Of course you have! Now sure, if you are asked 'what is a dinosaur' you will (hopefully) be able to name a few, or identify them from a picture of course... but how is a dinosaur classified as a dinosaur and not as a mammal, or reptile, or something else? Well, thanks to the awesome tour guide, I now know that answer! And now you will too!

Have a look at this picture below:

This depicts a hip joint of a dinosaur, and this spot here is exactly how archeologists classify a fossil as a dinosaur, and it seemed like a remarkably simple method considering we are dealing with the complexity that is evolution over millions of years. You'll notice that the end of the leg bone sits inside a completely hollowed out area of the hip bone, and you can imagine that as the dinosaur walks, this would rotate in this socket thus allowing for angled movement. When you compare this kind of hip-to-leg joint structure to other animals, they (including us humans) do not have a completely hollowed out hip bone joint. We mammals for instance have a spherical cut out within our hip joint that the top of our leg bone sits in, but this cut out does not go all the way through however.

See the image below of a human hip joint below for clarity:

This subtle different is what helps class what as a dinosaur and what is not. Very cool! Well I thought so at least. By using that method of classification, it also means that modern day birds are in fact dinosaurs, for their hip joint matches the criteria I briefly described above, meaning that birds have been around since the dinosaurs, with the last dinosaurs roaming over 65 million years ago. Interesting stuff!

And I guess that concludes my Museum of Natural history visit. Above was a very small handful of the photos I took, because really you could take a thousand and still have rooms left to explore, but alas I shall move on. Although this basically concludes my first day in New York City as well, with my remaining time rounded out with some dinner and reading at the hostel. And wow, was an amazing day it was. I've always been a huge fans of museums, whether it be about science, nature, space, visiting one has always been ranked highly on my must-see places, and I can gladly and willingly spend an entire day in one, with this one in particularly being on eof the best I have ever been to yet.

Bye for now!


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