Wonders of Science
Journey to Planet Earth
Journey to Planet Earth was a movie narrated by Matt Damon that talked about infectious diseases and sanitation. The film stated that the vaccines were initially winning in the war against disease. However, with the emergence of HIV and AIDs along with the spread of insect diseases, vaccines were beginning to lose their effectiveness. This change was occurring because of two factors: global warming and more advance technology. Insect diseases were spreading now because of global warming, which was causing environments to change: insects were now able to live in a greater range of places. With greater technology, travel has been made more available to people: it has become faster and cheaper. Because of this, people are now traveling to ordinarily unvisited places. When the tourists return, they bring souvenirs of exotic diseases with them. Another method the film shows in which disease is spread is when people emigrate to new towns to flee the diseases of their hometown. However, unbeknownst to these emigrants, the disease secretly comes with them and starts spreading in the new location. The film also correlated the sanitation levels to the disease levels. The towns most affected by these diseases were impoverished: They did not have clean water to drink from or to clean themselves with to help rid themselves of these potential diseases. Nor did they have any antibiotics to fight off the diseases once they actually had them. HIV and AIDs also began spreading because of the growing technology and lack of sanitation. People were now able to travel to Africa where AIDs is rampant and sanitation is almost nonexistent. Having unprotected contact with the Africans exposed the tourists to HIV and AIDs, which they then brought back to their local countries.
Global Warming: Facts and Our Future
Natural Climate Change
In this display, there were two pictures of the South Cascade Glacier: one from 1928 and one from 2003. The juxtaposition of these two pictures showed the drastic affects of global warming. Because of the rising levels of CO2 emissions, 70% of the glacier's ice had melted over the past 75 years. This is only one example of what is going on all over the world. The melting of the glaciers is leading to radical changes on the Earth's surface: as the ice continues to melt, the water levels will continue to rise. As the water levels rise, more of the costal surfaces will start to be covered by water. When this occurs, millions of people will have to be relocated, which will cause many social problems.
A Changing but Uncertain Future
This display was broken up into two parts: It displayed the changes Earth was experiencing due to global warming, and it introduced methods on how to reverse the change. There were "Global Impact" globes that showed several different consequences of global warming that are occurring throughout the world. An example of this the increase of air pollution. Europe experiences 21,000 air pollution related deaths a year. The increase in air pollution increases the ozone concentration, which causes harmful UV rays to be trapped inside the Earth's atmosphere. This in turn leads to lung tissue damage, which is dangerous to people with asthma and other lung diseases. There was also a "Sea Level Rise" display that showed that dramatic effects of what will happen if the ice caps melt and raise the sea levels. However, there was an "American CO2 calculator and a "Consider the Alternatives" survey that taught the user what to do to prevent these impeding disasters. These two were used in conjunction to show the various methods in which to counteract the rise of CO2 emissions and the average cost of implementing these changes.
Causes of Climate Change
This exhibit showed the many different ways that caused climate change. Volcanic eruptions was listed as one of the ways in which climate change could occur. In a volcanic eruption, ash, sulfate gas, and water vapor is released. The three of these create aerosols. Aerosols can cool or warm the Earth depending on where and how it was produced. In a volcanic eruption, aerosols cool the earth. In fossil fuel burning, aerosols warm up the Earth. This display was educational to the viewer because it taught him how something could be good or bad depending on the condition. Now he knows that it is a bad idea to try to get rid of all aerosols, he should only get rid of the ones produced by fossil fuels.
Infectious Disease: Evolving Challenges to Human Health
What are Viruses, Bacteria, Fungi, and Parasites
This display showed the differences between viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It also showed their size relative to the size of a hair. A virus is an infectious agent that can only grow inside a host cell: it need's the host cell's metabolism in order to reproduce. A virus consists of a protein coat and a tiny amount of DNA or RNA. Bacteria are unicellular microorganisms. They come in many different shapes, but they all consist of a cell membrane and a wall. Fungi are multicellular organisms. When they are in the microscopic form, their shapes are either thread like or circular. They reproduce by releasing spores. Parasites range from unicellular to multicellular organisms. The DNA is stored inside chromosomes in the nucleus. They are more complex then the above three because they contain organelles. It was really interesting to see the different ways these agents function, and how despite their size, they are able to have tremendous impact in the spread of diseases.
Ongoing Chain of Malaria Infection
This display shows the chain of the spread of malaria between humans and Anopheles mosquitoes. For a mosquito to contract malaria, a female mosquito needs to take blood from an infected human. This in turn infects the mosquito. Now, when the mosquito eats again, it will pass the disease into an uninfected human's blood stream, thus giving him the disease. This is a continuous cycle that will maintain the spread of malaria. I thought that this exhibit was useful because now that people are educated on how malaria is spread, perhaps they will try to take preventative measures to block different stage in the spreading of the disease.
This museum chose to set up its displays in an interactive style. This led people to be more involved in the exhibits. However, it did have its defects. In an interactive display, one does not get the total possible information from the display. Because an interactive display can only show so much, it can not show three hour videos on a single issue, people leave the display with holes in their information. Also, these exhibits are shown as the only facts on the issue, which does not stimulate the viewer to do more research on the issue: he already learned all that he needed to at the museum.
Private museums have a big obstacle: they have to compete with shopping malls and amusement parks, stay cost efficient while providing a high quality level of education. To do so, the museum was designed in a highly interactive fashion: it was now fun to go learn about science. Also, museums could give group discounts. This would encourage large amounts of people to come. These people will in turn tell other people about the museum, which will continue to supply the museum with a greater public.