The Milky Way's Disappearing Act

Where is the Milky Way? At our mid northern latitudes during the month of May, the great band of stars known as the Milky Way simply vanishes from the evening sky.

I Feel the Earth Move...

Living in the pacific northwest gives us some familiarity with earthquakes. You've probably felt one or two right? But what about those large and disastrous quakes, like the one that hit Japan a couple years ago, or the one that created the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004? We're lucky that most quakes in Oregon are fairly small-scale. California bears the brunt of earthquake-related damage on the west coast and even the Seattle region gets hit more often than Portland.

Plastics at SEA: Part I

On October 3, 2012 OMSI Educator Emilee Monson embarked on a ocean-bound trip along with 37 other scientists, teachers, students, and sailors. The Plastics at SEA: North Pacific Expedition was a scientific research study conducted by Sea Education Association (SEA) and dedicated to studying the effects of plastic marine debris in the ocean ecosystem. The expedition also aimed to provide updates of floating plastic concentrations in the region known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch".

Ask a Scientist! Grossology Edition

Have a science related question? Ask away! We'll track down an answer from one of our OMSI scientists and post the answers.


Q: How long does it really take to digest gum? My second grade teacher said thirty days. -Savannah

A: It's a lot less than thirty days - more like thirty hours. After you chew the sugar out of gum, if you swallow it the gum passes through your body like any other indigestible fiber. Just like the fiber in lettuce, bread or any other food, gum will pass mostly unchanged through your intestines and come out the other end in one or two days.

From Sci-fi to Science

Traveling through space using warp drive has been a fascination since the late 60’s with the advent of Star Trek. News last month about the feasibility of warp drive captivated trekkies and physicists alike. I have always admired Gene Roddenberry who created the Star Trek TV series in 1966. Not only did he produce and advise on the Star Trek shows and movies, he was also highly regarded as a futurist.

Death from the Skies! With “Bad Astronomer” Dr. Phil Plait

“The Universe is trying to kill you. It’s nothing personal. It’s trying to kill everybody.” So begins the book Death From the Skies!, the subject of a very special Science Pub being held at the Bagdad Theater on Wednesday, August 1, featuring Dr. Phil Plait, a.k.a. the “Bad Astronomer”. Plait is well known for his books, his blog, and his TV show Bad Universe that was featured on the Discovery Channel. He is also an enthusiastic supporter of making science education fun, which is what OMSI and Science Pub is all about!

Brain Birds Are Big Show-offs

What would it be like to devote your entire life to creating an attractive piece of art? Just ask the Bowerbird, a group of unique birds found in Australia and New Guinea. Why are they unique? Well, like you, they like to show off and impress others. Like you, they spend a lot of time collecting things. And like you, they decorate their homes and dance around when someone comes to visit.

Under My Thumb

At the January OMSI After Dark, more than 40 people gave us their thumbprints (and their bacteria) to help grow a bacterial lawn. A bacterial lawn describes the appearance of bacterial colonies when all the individual colonies on a petri-dish merge together to form a field or mat of bacteria. What we hope to see is a patchwork of the different types of bacteria and fungi.
 
Here is a picture of ours in a large dish.

Ask a Scientist - February 2012

Have a science related question? Ask away! We'll track down an answer from one of our OMSI scientists and each month post the answers. 


Q: What is the scientific reason behind what happens when you put a cup of water in window sill and the water disappears? - Janet

A: Water evaporates over time - the water molecules change from a liquid into a gas. The water becomes part of the air you breathe. And it might condense onto the window on a cold day, turning back from a gas into a liquid!
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