Do you struggle with arachnophobia? Do you feel at ease in the water knowing that spiders can’t get to you there?

Well you must not be familiar with the diving bell spider, a species of spider that spends the majority of its life underwater!

 

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Yes it’s true, there is such a thing as an underwater spider!

This fascinating arthropod, also known as the water spider, is quite similar to other spiders in that it breaths air, although it does it in a much more creative way.  These spiders spin a web cocoon of silk which they then fill up with air creating a bubble that they can take with them underwater. This bubble can last them quite a long time because they can use it to extract oxygen from the water around them and disperse the carbon dioxide back, acting like a gill. And due to a mostly sedentary life this spider is able to make the most of its oxygen only needing to come up about once a day or even less to replenish its air supply. This water spider, found in ponds of Northern and Central Europe as well as parts of Asia, is the only known spider to spend its life entirely underwater. It does common spider tasks underwater like mating and laying eggs, and using its silk threads it can even set traps for unsuspecting prey being alerted as soon as something touches the threads so it can dash out to deliver a paralyzing bite with its venomous fangs!

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Humans have derived several contraptions that allow us to breathe underwater for periods of time, but unlike the diving bell, we haven’t quite figured out how to do this during long winters or to support our everyday life. Perhaps we have a little something to learn from this amazing spider.

Discover more unbelievable facts at “The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!®” at Arizona Science Center through May 4, 2014!

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Good news for the International Space Station. The White House Administration approves an extension for another four years through 2024. Since 1998, this multi-billion dollar orbiting outpost has been travelling around the globe getting plenty of upgrades over the years. This big rig isn’t called a space station for nothing. It’s the largest space lab ever built stretching the length of a football field. At 924,739 pounds to be exact it’s hard to imagine it weighs almost nothing in orbit. The ISS is even bigger than a six-bedroom house. Inside, astronauts have some of the comforts of home including access to the internet, a gym, two bathrooms and plenty of opportunity to experiment with science!

Read more…

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Arizona Science Center was happy to host the 3rd annual Arizona Science and Technology Festival Launch Event and Press Conference on Jan. 28, 2014.

Science celebrity Geoff Notkin of the Science Channel’s “Meteorite Men” and now host of Cox Communications “STEM Journals” emceed the event which included speakers like Diane Joeans, the Mayor or Cottonwood and Arizona Science Center’s own Dr. Sharon Kortman among others.

Each speaker spoke of this coming year’s celebration of Science and Technology and the importance of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) in Arizona. According to Jeremy Barbendure, the director of the SciTech festival, the goal is to not only inspire and interest more kids in STEM careers but to foster the next generation of STEM leaders and learners and also to highlight Arizona as a leader in STEM. With the SciTech Festival expanding to more than 500 events state-wide, it is hard to argue that STEM won’t be a major driving force for Arizona this year, making our state one to be reckoned with.

The SciTech Festival fosters a collective responsibility model which combines the community with education and industry creating collaboration, civic engagement, community STEM branding, awareness of jobs and ultimately increased quality of life. It was clear from all of the speakers at the press conference that overall the outlook for the STEM landscape in Arizona is optimistic and filled with tremendous opportunity.

To conclude the event, Rebecca Gau, director of the Governor’s Office of Education Innovation presented Gov. Jan Brewers proclamation of February 2014 as Arizona Science and Technology Month. This proclamation solidifies the progress of science and technology in Arizona and is reflective of what The SciTech Festival, along with its partners, has built within the community of Arizona.

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It’s easy to argue that astronauts have the best view of the 2014 Sochi Olympic village with new satellite imagery that shows the expansive sporting sites and slopes that will host some of the world’s best athletes as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games kick-off this week.

The satellite images illustrate just how vividly the landscape and infrastructure of a city changes when hosting the Olympic Games. DigitalGlobe, the company that provides high-resolution images of the planet, shows images from 2005 and 2007 which display the progression of Sochi as they developed the Olympic Village and other structures along the Black Sea coast.

Sochi had to construct facilities to accommodate the sports that make up the Winter Olympics, from speed skating to curling, luge and skiing. It has been estimated that the 2014 winter Olympics cost Russia a whopping $50 billion dollars, making it the most expensive games to date. Although economists say that hosting Olympic games do not ring profitable, this year’s games will hopefully bring about positive sustainable impact for Russia according to sochi2014.com.

Even with the cost, it can certainly be argued that these Olympic games have been one of the most innovative with the Olympic torch traveling to space this year in the relay of the Olympic flame. This is the first time in history the torch has traveled outside a spacecraft on a spacewalk!

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1. The crates have arrived and the unpacking has begun!

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2. A crate arrives that weighs 744 lbs. What could possibly be inside?

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3. There is a giant transformer wrapped in plastic wrap. We don’t think it will hold him for long.

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4. Arizona Science Center staff casually move around a giant shark jaw. Those teeth don’t look that sharp!

 

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5. Justin Bieber makes an appearance in a portrait made entirely of candy. We didn’t think he could get much sweeter.

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6. A fully functioning mini-car is driven to to the lobby of Arizona Science Center. This car would make parking downtown so much easier!

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“The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!®” opens Feb. 10. Don’t miss out on all of the unbelievable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forecasting Earths weather can be challenging enough. Now try that on an alien planet orbiting a distant star 40 light-years away. At the University of Chicago researchers say the Hubble Space Telescope is capable of a new skill: Weather Forecasting! The HST which wasn’t even designed for this purpose has been able to detect weather patterns on the exoplanet GJ 1214b. Studies show this far out neighbor has a cloudy atmosphere that
blocks observations of the surface and lower atmosphere.

Read more…

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The Art360 series, part of Adults’ Night Out, continues on February 7 with artist Jason Smith. See our interview with him below.

Q: How would you describe your art?
A: I take a childlike approach to my artwork. I use color and various imagery to interact with the viewer subliminally, creating free associations.

Q: Where does your greatest inspiration come from?
A: My greatest inspiration comes from nature. I try to use natural elements in my work, combining these with personal “human” elements from myself. I am also heavily influenced by mid-century modern art and architecture; its simplified minimalist approach appeals to me on a basic level.

Q: What is your favorite piece and why?
A: My favorite piece is “Interaction.” I tried to express the sheer joy that I feel from the simple beauty and the spiritual feeling of profoundness I receive from observing nature and being in it.

Q: Do you think that science influences your work at all? If so, how?
A: I do feel science has a significant impact. I think curiosity is the impetus for someone to initially explore the world through science. I am constantly drawn into the working theoretical knowledge and exploration of things; this informs my work and expands it. To me, art is a sort of mirror to the active world around us, conveying many of the concepts and things that underlie it, both consciously and unconsciously.

Q: Do you think that science will continue to influence your work in the future and in what ways?
A: I think science will continually inform my artwork and working process. I am constantly exploring how man interacts and perceives the environment around him; this directly impacts my artwork and the themes expressed within it. I have always been curious as to how things are composed and how they function and interact in relation to the world around us.

Q: How do you think that having your art displayed on such a large surface like the Dorrance Planetarium dome will influence your work and the viewer’s perception of your work?
A: I think the Planetarium will offer a new environment for my artwork. I feel this will alter how people view and perceive my work. People will approach my work via the many concepts expressed at the science center. I also feel the Planetarium will immerse the viewer within the work, helping to create, many new conceptual connections and associations, verses a traditional presentation.

Visit Arizona Science Center, February 7 to meet Jason Smith and explore his work in a unique and immersive experience as it comes to life on the dome of the Dorrance Planetarium!

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With 80% of the earth’s surface being water, it isn’t surprising that there are more than 1,000 coral species that make up the underwater cities we know as coral reefs. Coral reefs are underwater structures composed of skeletons of marine invertebrate animals known as hermatypic corals which survive by creating hard exoskeletons that protect their soft bodies.

Each individual coral is called a “polyp.” Coral is able to grow to such magnificent size because new coral polyps will grow on the exoskeletons of existing polyps, over time creating a reef. Polyps are given their stunning color from algae that live just inside each polyp’s cell wall producing the results of photosynthesis, which the polyp then turns into protein, fat and carbohydrates necessary for the survival of the reef. The algae and the polyp form a symbiotic relationship because the polyp, in turn, shelters the algae and provides the carbon, nitrates and phosphates the algae needs for photosynthesis.

These reefs are complex and require a recipe of necessities to exist and grow. Reef-building corals require waters that are clear, warm and salty. If any of these requirements are not met, the algae become “stressed” and eject from the polyp. Without the Algae, the polyp loses its color and dies if not reabsorbed soon after.

Explore the amazing underwater world of coral reefs in our new film “The Last Reef 3D.” With stunning visuals and the giant IMAX® screen, there is no better way to become immersed in these vibrant underwater cities and to learn about their complicated and beautiful ecosystems.

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The sun has fully flipped upside down! It’s true! Believe it or not, this interesting phenomenon happens about every 11 years. This cycle is what we call the magnetic reversal of the sun’s poles. According to NASA it has officially happened and is quite remarkable. The Sun’s north and south poles complete a swap of negative and positive charges to reach the halfway mark of our current solar cycle 24. When this happens the
sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. The magnetic fields now begin their next cycle which will end in another reversal after a 22 year long process. The Earth flips its magnetic field too, but only about every 300,000 years or so.

Read more…

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Arizona Science Center is excited to have the opportunity to screen the film “Girl Rising” on Jan. 25 which highlights the strength of the human spirit and the power that education has to transform societies.

The film chronicles the stories of nine girls from around the world including Shokha in Cambodia, Wadley in Haiti, Suma in Nepal, Yasmin in Egypt, Azmera in Ethiopia, Ruksana in India, Senna in Peru, Mariama in Sierra Leone, and Amina in Afghanistan.

Although women and education are two popular words in today’s society, there are many strides that still need to be taken. According to EFA Global Monitoring Report, there are 65 million girls out of school globally.

This film has sparked a grassroots global action campaign for girls’ education, powered by people from around the world who advocate for equality. Join us for this film and you may feel inspired to spread the message across your community. Reserve your seat now!

What does girls’ education mean to you?

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