For decades, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been opening its doors to the general public during
Open House. This annual celebration consists of talks by Lamont’s world-renowned experts, opportunities to connect with scientists one-on-one, and dozens of hands-on activities and experiments for kids to learn about how our planet works.
Click through the slideshow below to see some highlights from the this year’s Open House, which took place on October 13.
Inside this 45-foot-long inflatable model of the JOIDES Resolution, visitors learned about the International Ocean Discovery Program. Lamont is a collaborator on this international effort, which drills into the sea floor. The cores they extract contain secrets of meteoroid impacts, ice sheet movements, and environmental hazards from Earth’s deep history. Photo: Sarah Fecht
Assistant research professor Nicholas Young explores an Antarctic ice sheet in augmented reality. Photo: Sarah Fecht
Many backyards in Brooklyn are contaminated with high levels of lead. Could yours be, too? Nearly 40 households brought in soil samples for testing at Open House. Research professor Lex van Geen and his lab tested the samples on-the-spot. Of the 63 samples that the families brought in, 9 contained potentially unsafe levels of lead. With this knowledge, those families will be better able to protect themselves and their children from lead poisoning. Photo: Sarah Fecht
The Office of Development offered a fun, science-themed photo booth, and the opportunity to make a commitment to the planet by supporting the world-changing science that comes out of Lamont by joining the Lamont-Doherty Family. Photo: Stacey Vassallo
Similar to how a tree grows rings, the coral Porites adds two new layers every year. Professor Braddock Linsley’s lab samples these layers to understand Earth’s past climate. Each coral gives a detailed, almost monthly estimate of the climate over a period of hundreds of years. Here, with grad student Jonathan Lambert’s assistance, kids used straws to take cores from dough with multi-colored layers. The kids counted the layers to determine how old each “coral” would be in real life, and learned about how important corals are in reconstructing the ancient history of Earth’s climate. Photo: Kyu Lee
This seltzer bottle “Plinian eruption” demonstrates how dissolved gases can make volcanic eruptions explosive. Under high pressures, deep underground, the gases stay dissolved in magma. This is symbolized by the lack of bubbles in the unopened bottle. But a small hole in the cap reduces the pressure and bubbles start to form. For Open House visitors, the exciting part comes when “we have them hit the bottle on the table and it shoots a stream of water up to 10 feet into the air,” explains grad student Henry Towbin, who studies similar volcanic processes in professor Terry Plank’s lab. When magma underground rises to a shallower depth, depressurization causes bubbles to form. If the bubbles can’t easily escape, they can result in a high pressure plume that can reach the stratosphere. Photo: Kyu Lee
Professor Heather Savage and postdoc Rob Skarbek show visitors how friction controls earthquakes. Inside, the machine squeezes three plexiglass blocks together horizontally, while also pushing the center block downward vertically. Meanwhile, polarized light helps to visualize the different stresses applied by the machine. The center block demonstrates a “stick-slip” fault; instead of sliding down at a constant rate, it alternates between sliding abruptly and remaining stationary. Skarbek explains: “On a given fault, most of the time earthquakes are not occurring, this is the ‘stick’ phase on that fault. When an active fault is stuck, stresses build up on that fault until the next earthquake occurs, relieving some of the stress.” Normally the team uses this machine to do experiments with rocks and ice that help them to understand earthquakes and how glaciers and ice sheets slide around. Photo: Phebe Pierson
Explore more exhibits in the videos below.
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