NY Day 6 - Museum of Natural History
Hop on the B/D/F/V uptown at 42nd/Bryant; jump off at Columbus Circle because the train might be running express past the AMNH to 125th Street (which is past the Mason-Dixon line at 96th St.; below that point Manhattan’s quite nice, above it it’s a bit sketchy). Try and hop on the C uptown; see a sign saying the C’s running express. Finally jump on the A uptown to 86th and 8th. And finally - arrive at the American Museum of Natural History, just across from Central Park. Catch the flickr photoset, or read on.
Apparently it’s mandatory for at least two street festivals to be going on every weekend in Manhattan. There was a food festival going on down in Tribeca, and I popped up in the middle of another one. Have to apologise in advance for the photos in the AMNH. I couldn’t take photos in the Charles Darwin exhibition, which is a shame - there’s some nice exhibits, including quite a lot of Darwin’s original writings. I remembered to start taking photos when I got to the astrophysics display, which borrows liberally from the classic Powers of 10 film, then got distracted in the geology, meteorology and meteorites-minerals-and-gems-oh-my display. You’ll just have to go there yourself. The highlight of the museum is their ‘powers of ten’ display - the centrepiece of which is the 23-ish-metre diameter Hayden Sphere. In front of it are displays that show the relative size of things in the universe. For example, if the Hayden Sphere is the observable universe, the little blob in front of it is the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies, which contains the Milky Way. They go on down through the Kuiper Belt, the stars, the planets, to atoms, and finally protons (which are very very small). Then, there’s a spiral walkway down to the basement, which takes the entire history of the universe and compresses it into a 90-metre walk - thirteen billion years at about 140 million years per metre. There are some interesting displays along the way: a 4.6-billion-year-old meteorite, from the dawn of the solar system; a 3.5-billion-year-old stromatolite fossil, which contains some of the oldest known fossils of living organisms… and right at the end, a single human hair, which represents the entire recorded history of humanity, from cave paintings to Blogger. Way to make us feel small. On the way back (I managed to figure out the B- and C-line trains, finally), I stopped off near Rockefeller Center again, and shot a few last photos of the NYC streetscape - and one of Times Square, because that’s what all the tourists are required to go and gawk at. Tomorrow - the train to Washington.