No one can keep up with everything, so let us do it for you. We’ll gather the top Smithsonian stories from across the country and around the world each week so you’ll never be at a loss for conversation around the water cooler.
Doom may be impeding as some deny climate change and see omens in the solar eclipse, but NASA is too broke to send us all to Mars, so we spent this week enjoying some cool things right here on Earth—like narwhals!
The Washington Post, July 30
Complex, July 30
According to recent Congressional reports, NASA’s plan to send humans to Mars is going to cost a lot more money that previously thought. That is, if they can even find the money to bring back the rovers they have on the planet right now.
On July 15, NASA announced it was one step closer to achieving its Mars 2020 mission after passing a “major milestone,” according to Space News. The mission is set to send a rover to the red planet in mid-2020 for a February 2021 landing. “The Mars 2020 rover is the first step in a potential multi-mission campaign to return carefully selected and sealed samples of Martian rocks and soil to Earth,” said Geoff Yoder, NASA’s acting associate administrator for science, in a statement. Read more from Julia Pimentel for Complex.
Capital Gazette, July 30
The Biogeochemistry Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) is conducting their annual census of the Global Change Research Wetland this week, otherwise known as Marsh Madness with the help of volunteers. See more from Paul W. Gillespie for the Capital Gazette.
NPR “Morning Edition,” August 1
One hundred years ago, the U.S. entered the first global war — an ugly, dirty, agonizing conflict that cost millions of lives and changed the world. Now, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is observing the centennial with art and artifacts in an exhibition called Artist Soldiers.
The Americans didn’t arrive until three years into the war and fought for less than a year. They joined French, Russian, British and other troops fighting Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. World War I was the first “modern” industrial war with large numbers of tanks, heavy artillery and planes. Tragically, it was also a war of trenches. Read more from Susan Stamberg for “Morning Edition.”
The Washington Post, August 2
On Aug. 21, as millions of Americans prepare to watch a total solar eclipse from the ground — wearing their safety spectacles, natch — a small team of scientists will hop aboard a Gulfstream V jet in Tennessee. Time will be short. The plane, a research aircraft owned by the National Science Foundation, will race to intercept the path of the moon’s shadow and follow it as long as it can. The astrophysicists, once they’re above southern Kentucky, should have a four-minute window to record the ghost of the missing sun.
They won’t have another shot for years. The next solar eclipse to pass over the United States occurs in 2024. Read more from Ben Guarino for the Washington Post.
The Washington Post, August 3
The narwhal is the weirdo of the sea.
Related to dolphins, beluga whales and orcas, narwhals have bullet-shaped bodies that boast a unique feature: a spiraling ivory horn that protrudes straight out and is actually one of their teeth. That horn, in fact, once provided “proof” of a mythical animal. Viking hunters searching for walrus ivory — which fetched a high price in the 10th through 12th centuries — came upon narwhals and sent the horns south to medieval Europeans, who assumed they must be from unicorns. Read more from Kristen Page-Kirby for the Washington Post Express.
Smithsonian American Art Museum’s third annual gaming showcase begins Saturday
NBC4 Washington, August 4
Toy with a cube built for toddlers, control a game by hugging a teddy bear and experience virtual reality at the SAAM Arcade, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s third annual gaming showcase featuring video games by student and professional developers.
SAAM Arcade is one of the largest game festivals hosted by a national museum, said Lindsay Grace, director of American University’s Game Lab and a advisor to the SAAM Arcade. Read more from Courtney Rozen for NBC4.
Posted: 10 August 2017