What's New

Hello from “SEM Jim”. I will be giving demonstrations using the Scanning Electron Microscope on Monday, January 17. This time we will be looking at the capability of the SEM to determine the elemental composition of samples (what things are made of). The SEM uses a technique called energy dispersive X-Ray spectroscopy to do this.

Come see me on January 17 for a cool demonstration. Check your program guide for demonstration times or come by the SEM lab on Level 4 at the back of DinoDigs anytime between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!


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NatureWorks staff and the exhibits department are in the process of renovating a portion of the former Trading Center. The new theme for the room will be - Adaptation Station. Animals housed in this exhibit will be chosen for their interesting adaptations such as camouflage, defense mechanisms, types of reproduction, and ways for finding and consuming food. The first phase of this renovation will be constructed soon and the following species are planned for exhibit.

 

Tentacled snake, Erpeton tentaculatum

This snake is found in Thailand, Cambodia and South Vietnam. It inhabits ponds and sluggish bodies of water with heavy vegetation and cover. They are fully aquatic and are so camouflaged they look like a submerged stick. They are unique among snakes in they have two scaly, projections on the tip of their nose. These are thought to be sensory in nature and allow them to sense the position of their fish prey in murky water. Their entire feeding mechanism is fascinating and more information will be coming soon.

erp

 

Read more...


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The periodic table contains the 118 unique elements that are currently known to exist on the planet. You can find it proudly displayed in most high school chemistry classes and it is a tool that teachers encourage their students to use on tests. In his book, The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean examines each individual element that makes up the periodic table by revealing their unique stories and origins. Here are just a few elements that are pretty awesome:

  • Hydrogen (H) is one of the main elements that make up stars (and because it is highly reactive, we use it in balloons for KaBoom shows).
  • “Self-sterilizing” Copper (Cu) tubing is used in air-conditioning ducts because copper will disrupt the metabolism of certain bacteria and fungi.
  • Gallium (Ga) has a melting point of 84°F, which makes it one of the few metals that can melt in the palm of one’s hand. A popular practical joke among scientists was to take a Gallium spoon and give it to a colleague with a hot cup of tea, only to have it disappear.

Visit this link for additional information about The Disappearing Spoon.

If you love chemistry and want to experience some hands-on experiments, stop by Dr. Dare’s Laboratory on your next visit to the science center.


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Red lionfish are beautiful fish that are becoming quite a problem for Florida. Lionfish are an invasive species to the Atlantic Ocean. An invasive species is an animal or plant that is introduced to a new habitat and negatively affects it. Florida has many invasive species due to its warm tropical climate.

In the case of the lionfish, they are destroying the local fish, shrimp, and crab populations by eating so many of them. Since lionfish have no natural enemy in the Atlantic Ocean, the lionfish population is exploding. Everyone has been trying to find a way to get rid of these pesky fish.

Lionfish

A Key Largo based REEF conservation organization has created a lionfish cookbook to create a demand for these fish to be caught and sold at fish markets. Their slogan is “Eat ‘em to Beat ‘em” and its true!  The faster we remove these fish the sooner the local biodiversity can return to what it was before the troublesome lionfish came to town.

Want to try it for yourself? Check out www.reef.org to buy the cookbook. Hopefully we’ll be seeing some of these delicious recipes in our local restaurants too!

Lionfish_Cookbook

Misty is an Animal Care Technician at the Science Center and is found in NatureWorks. Animals and Ecology are her passions and she jumps at every opportunity to talk about it. Stop in and say Hello!


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This just goes to show anyone can be a scientist, regardless of age. A class of 8-10 year olds was enlisted by Dr. Beau Lotto of LottoLabs in England to study bees. Dr. Lotto wanted a fresh look at old data but what he got was more than that; the kids had taken the assignment to heart and ended up uncovering new findings regarding how bees look for food and decide which flowers might have the most nectar.

For the full story, check out: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/site/misc/BlackawtonBees.xhtml

"They can because they think they can." - Virgil, Roman epic poet

BlackawtonBees


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Researchers at Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center in China believe that dressing up as a panda while working with captive born panda cubs is beneficial to the animals living a normal life in the wild. The panda suit helps the panda cub imprint on pandas instead of humans. Imprinting is a behavioral adaptation that gives an animal its identity and gives it an image of what its future mate should look like and what to guard its territory against.In the wild, animals imprint upon their parents.

However in captivity, there are lots of humans around who interact with the young cub, taking measurements and giving it health exams, that the cub might imprint on humans and think it is human. This may sound silly, but this occurs quite often with young birds. Animals who imprint on humans do not survive well in the wild, thus the hope that the researchers dressed as a panda will help the young panda cub imprint on pandas and live a successful life in the wild.

Panda Dress Up

Check out these websites to see more pictures and learn more information about their research:

latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/12/panda-costume.html

www.nypost.com/p/news/international/this_li_panda_getting_tricked_treated_qFs21U8AAdrvsu7lYhnf3H

Misty is an Animal Care Technician at the Science Center and is found in NatureWorks. Animals and Ecology are her passions and she jumps at every opportunity to talk about it. Stop in and say Hello!


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Hi - My name is Jim White and I provide public programming using the Science Center's Hitach S-3500N scanning electron microscope (SEM). The Orlando Science Center is one of the few places in the US where the public can get up close and personal with an SEM and see its capabilities. The SEM has many advantages over light/optical microscopes and I will explain those in future posts. Some of its capabilities include high magnification (up to 100,000X in optimum conditions) and elemental analysis.

I choose from a variety of samples to observe each day I am here. Some of the items we have observed in the past include bugs, fibers, and coins.

Currently, I mainly do programs on a few weekend days a month. I will be posting my schedule as it is firmed up so you will know when I will be here and you can, hopefully, come by the SEM laboratory on Level 4 at the back of DinoDigs.

I will be posting a new blog at least every two weeks and will be talking about items dealing with the SEM as well as other subjects that I think you will find interesting.

Hope to see you soon,
"SEM Jim"


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