Last week, we reported of a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) that would delve into the mysteries surrounding natural disasters. What causes tornadoes? What’s the aftermath of a volcano? How do these forces shape the planet? Opened on November 15, the interactive exhibit, entitled “Nature’s Fury: The Science Behind Natural Disasters,” provides the answers to all these questions and more.
Originated at the Field Museum in Chicago, the exhibition specifically reveals how scientists study natural disasters – the causes and the results – and the ways that knowledge can help the world prepare for “nature’s fury.” It features compelling interactive displays, as well as animations, to help visitors understand the phenomena.
“This is even more crucial in a time of tremendous environmental and climate change, when forces that scientists are actively trying to understand are having an impact on the degradation of the environment faster than we can keep up,” MNH President Ellen Futter said.
Included in the exhibition for $27.00 are the following highlights:
The new exhibition reveals how earthquakes are produced when tectonic plates slide against each other. Visitors can create their own earthquake by jumping next to a seismometer, a device that measures the magnitude of an earthquake on the Richter scale.
Some of the most notorious volcanic eruptions are discussed in “Nature’s Fury” – from Mount St. Helens in 1980, to Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Visitors can also “build” their own volcano by adjusting levels of gas and silica, which ultimately effects how explosive an eruption will be.
Adventure seekers and storm chasers use probes to measure the wind speeds, air pressures and other factors that influence a storm’s severity. A panoramic screen inside the museum will provide visitors a first hand experience of what it’s like to be inside a twister.
The deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history occurred in 1900 in Galveston, Texas. The hurricane claimed the lives of 8,000 people, and since then, scientists have learned a lot more about the phenomenon. The exhibit provides visitors with a touch-screen table map of New York City during Hurricane Sandy in 2012; it showcases the coastal areas that were most vulnerable to the storm, and depicts the city’s efforts to mitigate damage from other hurricanes in the future.
Altogether, the four cornerstones of the exhibit remind audiences of nature’s powers – and our lack of as humans. Take, for instance, the exhibit’s interactive map of New York City demonstrating the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The storm was expected and planned for — and still, was a complete disaster with only less than an inch of rain. Why? Because other forces of nature like the city’s coastline and the unusually high tide were at play – and won.
Seemingly, the same Hurricane Sandy display also alludes to our failure as humans to efficiently communicate and thus, plan, pointing out catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina and the Galveston disaster. And what is meant by this suggestion? That, at least when it comes to hurricanes, not all rests completely in nature’s hands. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we are dealt with a handful we can pick and choose from.
If you’re interested in visiting though, perhaps it’s best to wait till the exhibit’s opening frenzy calms. And you have plenty of time for that: The exhibition will close on August 9, 2015.