Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Museum of Natural History and Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously

What Am I Doing Here Pt. II (Ft. Lemar) by Chicane on Grooveshark
I was getting really stressed out.  Moving has got to be the biggest hassle in the world.  And I don't even have that much stuff to move this time, I've only been in NYC for 6 months and yet I was overwhelmed with hassle.  Closing the loop on utilities, moving boxes, packing, throwing out what I can and being appalled that I accumulated so much superfluous stuff when I promised myself I wouldn't...argh.

I took a break from moving shenanigans and decided to treat myself to a museum I've never been to:  the American Museum of Natural History.  It's one of the most celebrated museums in the world and I really was impressed, I highly recommend it to anyone.  Talk about exploration of this earth and beyond.  It really impressed upon me how everything is related...did you know that every single human being on this planet has at least a teaspoon of matter comprised of ex-star material from billions of years ago?  The physics of the universe, the galaxy and how it relates to each and every individual human being on this planet blew my mind.  See the space show at the new planetarium, which incorporates high-resolution full-dome film to create space shows, it felt like I was flying through outer space, it was awesome.

Main entrance.  The entire museum is comprised of 27 connected buildings including 45 permanent exhibition halls and a planetarium. 


You walk into the main lobby and bam, Jurassic Park baby! It's a Baurosaurus rearing up to protect its young.  The tallest free-standing dinosaur mount in the world, composed of replica bones cast from real fossils (the real bones would be too heavy to mount in this fashion).  

The planetarium theatre was probably the best part of the museum.  It's a new exhibit narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and I learned so much...space really is the final frontier and I finally get why Richard Branson and Justin Timberlake want to go there. 


Outside of the planetarium.  Designed by James Stewart Polshek, he called it his "cosmic cathedral." 
The interior of the full-dome theatre.
During the film, I learned about the life cycle of stars, galaxies, universes...and auroras:


Auroras are collisions of electrically charged particles from the sun that are pulled into earth's atmosphere.  Magic!!



Auroras as seen from outer space
Incredible, right?  I totally get astronomy geeks now.
Who wants to go star-gazing with me in California?
On to my next favorite part of the museum:  dinosaurs.  The museum has the world's best collection of complete dinosaur fossils, you can't see these exhibits anywhere else.

Totally reminded me of Jurassic Park where they talked about how birds evolved from dinosaurs.  Apparently that is a widely accepted but still hotly contested by some theory.      
T-Rex!  Look at those chompers.  Almost as large as mine.  I may have big teeth. 
The only T-Rex fossil mount composed entirely of real fossils.  Breathtaking!
Aptosaurus. 
An Allosaurus scavenging from an Aptosaurus' corpse.  Can you imagine the thought process of the paleontologist who thought of this setup?  He was probably like, let's see what would grab the attention of people who don't know anything about dinosaurs except what they've seen on Jurassic Park, yeah, it has to be something gory and menacing. 
Comparing the skeleton of a late, birdlike dinosaur to a penguin's.  
There were also many exhibition rooms dedicated to conservation issues.  I loved this museum, it's different from a typical art gallery...it's the history of the world and beyond.  It kind of makes us feel small, right, when you think that there's billions of galaxies out there.  Our own Milky Way galaxy has something like 200 billion stars in it and is 100,000 light years across...mind boggling.  All stars have a lifespan, including our sun's, in a few billion years, it will run out of hydrogen, enter the giant red phase and slowly die...

I walked out with a huge sense of humility.  And an awareness of the miniscule amount of time that we are all on this planet; our time here on earth is so short!  It reminded me of two things:  (1) don't stress over stuff like work, moving, things.  In the end, it all doesn't matter.  Don't take yourself so seriously...we're all dust.  (2) don't waste a single precious day of my life not doing things I love.  I really wish I had left my job many years ago but what's done is in the past.  Going forward, if I don't love it, I'm out.  Life is short.

I came home, took a bath and was happy.

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