NYC, day 2: Today was great. Amazing, even. I slept in until 11 or so, then waited for other interns to get up and dressed and ready to go places until a little past noon. We wanted to visit the financial district, possibly see the Statue of Liberty, possibly visit SoHo, and wanted to see some museums (particularly since IBM employees have free entry (yay, corporate sponsorship!)). We opted to head to museums first, since the museums have a firm closing time, and none of the other targets did (it was Saturday, so there was no trading on Wall Street). So, we took the MTA north up to 79th street and went to the American Museum of Natural History, where I remained until the museum closed (about 5 hours later).
The exhibits were nothing short of fantastic. We started in the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, an exhibit about the formation of the Earth, and thus, about different kinds of rock/rock formations (remember igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic?). There was a cool half-sphere display, which we kinda mocked since one of the intern teams has a full sphere display that they are working on. I spent a little longer looking at the exhibits than the other five interns, so I started to fall behind. Once we got to the Hall of Biodiversity, I was completely left behind, which was totally okay, because there was a STUFFED TIGER and a bunch of cool stuff on African wildlife. I visted the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, a huge two-story room with evolutionary trees of all sorts of sea creatures, pictures of various bioluminescent creatures, a full-scale model of a sperm whale, and numerous other breathtaking sea life forms. I skimmed through the North American Forests exhibit, along with the Warburg Hall of New York State Environment, pausing to note the cool display on how farming was done through different time periods. It's interesting to note how a smaller and smaller percentage of the population farms as time goes on, despite having many more people to feed. This reminded me of the sad fact that our population eats so poorly and is growing unsustainably. But that's a talk for another time. Go watch Jamie Oliver's TED Talk, it's worth your time.
This accounts for about the first 90 minutes of my time in the AMNH. My next stop was the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, which talked about human evolutionary ancestry - so a good deal of background information on DNA, evolution, etc. was involved. I particularly liked the display about the differences between human and ape hands, noting our comparably large opposable thumbs. There was also a bit explaining the fossil record, how few humanoid fossils we've found, and the different brain sizes of various creatures. After the Hall of Human Origins, I continued to the Ross Hall of Meteorites, which was mostly boring since I knew most of the content there (stuff like meteorites are usually named after where their pieces strike the ground). The real value of the Hall of Meteorites was that it was the only entrance to the Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, which was the COOLEST EXHIBIT I'VE SEEN IN A MUSEUM EVER.
I'd guess that I entered the darkened hall at around 15:00. I was greeted on my left by a lovely display of different types of gold crystals. But that wasn't the part that really got me excited. No, I was most impressed by the series of glass cases on the left wall of the room, which contained a HUGE assortment of minerals, impeccably organized - each glass case contained minerals with a particular anion (say, halides, carbonates, oxides, or sulfides). Within each case, the samples were grouped with a number, and each number refered to the group in the periodic table that the primary cation was in. Then, each individual specimen was named, and at the bottom of the case, its chemical formula was provided. The organization of the collection awed me, along with the sheer number of minerals that I'd never heard of, as well as the fun of seeing ones that I did recognize. Random: I saw a guy wearing a Debian shirt. On the back, it said "apt-get into it!" which I thought was hilarious.
And that was only the half of it! Huge crystals of the most beautiful colors, explanations of how minerals are classified (hardness, streak, fracture, color, luster, etc.), a case of the most common minerals (I knew most of those!), infomation on the various crystal structures, and some gorgeous geodes. Mix in a display of radioactive ores, minerals that glowed under ultraviolet light, and the various properties of quartz, and then just for kicks, add a whole exhibition on gemstones. Countless beautiful cuts of sapphire, opal, garnet, diamond, quartz...they were breathtakingly lovely. You might not get that excited about rocks, but I loved the exhibit. I left the minerals exhibit two hours after entering after seeing my fill. It's a good thing the other interns left me behind - there's no way they would have wanted to stay that long.
My next stop was a quick trip up to the fourth floor, so I could visit the three dinosaur exhibits upstairs (I skipped floors 2 and 3, since I find dinos cooler than most other animals, and the other exhibits were mostly about lesser animals or peoples). There were two exhibits - one on Saurischian Dinosaurs ("lizard-hipped") and one on Ornithischian Dinosaurs ("bird-hipped," despite birds actually being descended from the Saurischain line). The former was home to Apatosaurus and a big Tyrannosaurus rex, while the latter featured Edmontosaurus and others. There was much visualization on similar bone structures, and how birds are descended from dinosaurs, but obviously the best part was the GIANT dinosaur skeletons. Those things were terrifyingly huge, back in their day. I want to ride one.
And then the museum closed, and I went back to the hotel, recharged (both myself and my phone), and then I located the Nintendo World, because that store is awesome. I got a picture of myself next to a stuffed KingSlime (yay, Dragon Warrior series!). There were all sorts of Kirbys - last year, I only saw the cutter and parasol Kirbys. This year, there were also Chef Kirbys, Sword Kirbys, Ninja Kirbys, DeDeDes (with hammers!), and ADORABLE Waddle Dees. I eventually left and got dinner at a nearby sushi restaurant, which concluded my exciting events for the day.