Category Archives: NYC SciBlings MeetUp

The Horse Exhibit at the AMNH

One of the cool perks of being a scienceblogger and going to a meetup this year was the opportunity to go and see the Horse Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and to recieve (as we were not allowed to take pictures in there) a CD with some of the pictures. You can also see a lot more text and pictures, pretty closely following what is on the exhibit itself, on the excellent Horse Exhibit wesbite.
So, on Saturday afternoon, after the Meet-the-Readers event, several of us got on the subway and went up to the Museum. And I was not disappointed. You know I love horses and have been voraciously reading about them all my life. Yet, I still learned a thing or two new to me at the exhibit. The first thing one sees when entering the room is this huge and beautiful diorama, with various species of now-extinct equids:
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The exhibit itself put a lot of effort into dispelling the old textbook notion of a linear progression (from Eohippus to Equus caballus) of the horse evolution, the ‘ladder’, and tries to present the more realistic way of thinking about it as a ‘bush‘ (I am surprised Brian never moved that post to his new blog) with many twigs, and with many species of horses living simultaneously in many parts of the word.
The video (featuring, I think, Ross MacPhee) next to this part of the exhibit, explained how scientists figure out these things, like ages of fossils and genealogical relationships between extinct species – a good antidote to the inevitably static nature of the exhibit, i.e., the Facts, as opposed to the Process.
A similar video about the way scientists study the early domestication of horses serves the same function – it shows the method by which we get to know what we know, not just what we know. The portion of the exhibit about domestication, as well as the one on the natural history (evolution, behavior, extinct and living relatives, etc.) were very well done – there were no usual factual errors that often creep into such exhibits, books etc.about horses.
The rest of the exhibit was devoted to the relationship between horses and humans – how the two species affected and changed each other over the past six millennia. From the use of horses for food, bones, hair and milk, through domestication, riding, driving, warfare and work and today – to sport and the protection of the horses. How horses were bred for different purposes at different times, for instance for large size and carrying ability:
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…or for high speed needed to deliver mail from East to West Coast:
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It was great fun, especially seeing this together with some knowledgeable SciBlings like Brian, Grrrl, Josh and others who will probably write their own reviews soon. If you can come to NYC before January 4th 2009, make sure you take some time to see this exhibit. Perhaps it will go on a tour of other cities afterwards. In the meantime, peruse the Horse Exhibit wesbite for more information.

NYC SciBlings MeetUp – Sunday and Monday

During our trip to NYC we stayed at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel (see the reviews here and here):
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The hotel was built specifically to aid the business of the United Nations next door:
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The hotel was actually very nice – big room with a big comfy bed. Great location as well (on Friday we took a looooong walk from there all the way to the tip of the island; and it was just a few blocks away from the location of the Saturday night party) – an easy walk to Grand Central Station (and from there to the American Museum of Natural History – a subject for an entirely new post tomorrow), etc. – here are some pics from the Grand Central – the ceiling, the old clock, and the people moving around (nobody looked frozen):
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Also on the way south along the 2nd avenue (on the corner with 9th street) is the second NYC location of the Max Brenner chocolate restaurant. The other one is on Union Square (there are also several in Israel, a couple in Australia, Phillipines and Singapore, but no more in the USA and none in Europe). After having breakfast there on Friday (and swinging by the Union Square location to buy some goodies as presents), we also just happened to be passing by it when a thunderstorm started, so we jumped in and had hot chocolate milk – the kind you make yourself: a candle heats up the cup to which one adds as much milk and chocolate chips one wants, until the color is THE perfect brown:
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While at the Union Square, we saw this bus – I guess one can call this a double-decker:
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After the previous night’s party, with most Sciblings in various stages of hangover, and the loss of Internet at the hotel impeding communication, we abandoned our Plan A – to go with several SciBlings to Bronx Zoo, and later to go see ‘Hair’ in Central Park. Next time. So, on Sunday morning, we had breakfast with Orac, said Good Byes to various SciBlings as they were coming out through the lobby on their way home, and generally spent a low-key day, just a little walking around Central Park and shopping.
On Monday morning, knowing that the entire NE corridor is borked, we were in no rush to go to the airport (good decision), so we took a cab to Ryder Alley (this will be a subject of a separate post) and had to teach a brand new cabbie how to get there. On the way back, we had lunch at Katz’s Deli, where I took a picture of the place with the owner right in the middle of it, as well as the picture of the famous pastrami sandwich for my friends the food-bloggers:
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…which is NOT what she was having (but he was):

NYC SciBlings MeetUp – Saturday night party

More pictures, just a few. Some left out to protect anonymity, but mostly – I did not take that many as I was too busy tasting, and tasting again, and then again, some EXCELLENT wine:

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NYC SciBlings MeetUp – Saturday meeting the readers

Again, in a dark room, my camera used long exposures and thus many pictures are fuzzy. But you can see that we had lots and lots of readers come to see us, together with the NYC Skeptics:
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NYC SciBlings MeetUp – Saturday brunch with Darwin and Professor Steve Steve

More pictures:
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NYC SciBlings MeetUp – Saturday morning in the hotel lobby

Some more pictures for you:
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NYC SciBlings MeetUp – Friday dinner

A few more pictures. The room was dark so my camera used long exposure times, so some of the pics are fuzzy, but hey, I am an amateur:
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PZ was there!

Well, only his beard:
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Back!

After four days – last three of which I had no internet access – and after11 hours of travel door-to-door (or 8 hours from entering an airport and exiting another airport), I am home. Exhausted.
As I knew that several other Sciblings had to deal with the chaos of NYC air-travel this weekend. We were prepared – took it slowly and easily. Read a book. Could not login to JetBlue wireless (I think my PLoS laptop has so many layers of security, it does not allow me to connect to public wifi deemed too dangerous – that’s why I need to get myself a Mac AirBook, or a Wee, for travel). People-watching. Napping. It was fine – no nervousness as we knew what to expect.
Will try to catch up with life, work and blogging as fast as I can. There will be more pictures, but I have to first check with some pseudonymous bloggers what pictures are OK or not-OK to post.

NYC SciBlings MeetUp – at the Seed offices, part 2

To protect the anonymous, nobody in the pictures is named, tagged or linked in any way. So, you don’t know who is a blogger, who is Seed staffer, who is a reader, except for the few obviously well knows faces:
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NYC SciBlings MeetUp – at the Seed offices

To protect the anonymous, nobody in the pictures is named, tagged or linked in any way. So, you don’t know who is a blogger, who is Seed staffer, who is a reader, except for the few obviously well knows faces:
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NYC SciBlings MeetUp – Friday morning

We barely made it to our 6am flight (so we did not get stranded like Sheril), so Mrs.Coturnix an I got to NYC about 7-ish and spend the entire day walking down the Lower East side of Manhattan, from the U.N. to Battery Park, and then took a cab back to the hotel (the last picture) where we started meeting the first SciBlings (next set of pictures, later today):

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