Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Event/Item Event Scheduled  
Film Screening - D-Day, Normandy 1944

 

Join Peter Burland, Special Forces of U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service and hero of Omaha Beach, for an evening screening of D-Day, Normandy 1944. Burland will provide a short introduction to the film as well as answer questions from the audience the screening.

 

7/30/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Bats: The Night Shift by Cullen Geiselman

 

Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight and they have radiated into almost every habitat on earth.  They are responsible for eating millions of night-flying insects, dispersing seeds in rain forests, and pollinating plants in deserts.  Only three out of the 1,300+ species of bats are vampires and feed solely on the blood of other mammals and birds. Other bats are carnivorous and capture small vertebrate prey, such as lizards, birds, and even other bats.  Their great diversity of feeding strategies is a testament to the adaptability of these nocturnal animals and reveals their important roles they play within ecosystems.  During her lecture, Dr. Cullen Geiselman will give a brief summary of the world’s bat species, their habitats, and adaptations and discuss their ecological functions and the benefits they provide to humans within different environments. She will end by bringing it all back to the 38 bat species found in Texas highlighting the 8 or so that call Houston home. Bat researcher and conservationist Dr. Cullen Geiselman has studied bats around the globe. She currently serves on the board of directors of Bat Conservation International. This lecture is co-sponsored by Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

10/27/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Camp Logan, a WWI Emergency Training Center in Houston by Louis Aulbach and Linda Gorski

 

Camp Logan, a military training base built in 1917 housed 44,000 soldiers in what is now Houston's Memorial Park.  To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI, historians Louis Aulbach and Linda Gorski will present a program on this almost-forgotten chapter in Houston's history and the archaeological work done at the site where foundation features of the camp remain in the wooded areas of Memorial Park and have been declared State Archeological Landmarks.  This presentation will be a tribute to the soldiers who trained at Camp Logan - including nine Medal of Honor winners and seventy one African American soldiers who won the French Croix de Guerre. Following the lecture, Aulbach, Gorski and co-author Robbie Morin will sign copies of their new book Camp Logan Houston Texas 1917 - 1919.

11/4/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Ethics without God? The Evolution of Morality and Empathy in the Primates by Frans de Waal

 

Empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. In his work with monkeys, apes and elephants, Dr. Frans de Waal has found many cases of one individual coming to another's aid in a fight, putting an arm around a previous victim of attack, or other emotional responses to the distress of others.

By studying social behavior in animals --such as bonding and alliances, expressions of consolation, conflict resolution, and a sense of fairness --de Waal demonstrates that animals and humans are preprogrammed to reach out, questioning the assumption that humans are inherently selfish. Understanding empathy's survival value in evolution can help to build a more just society based on a more accurate view of human nature. Religion may add to a moral society, but as an addition and way to enforce good behavior rather than as the source of good behavior.

 

Dr. Frans de Waal is a professor of psychology at Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. Following the lecture Dr. de Waal will sign copies of his latest book is The Bonobo and the Atheist.

 

This lecture is sponsored by The Leakey Foundation.

10/21/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Exploration to Exploitation - The Road from Plant Discovery to Market by Tony Avent

 

In this behind-the-scenes look into the nursery world, Tony Avent will share the secrets of how and why new plants fit into different market niches. Explore why certain new plants get to market quickly, while other great plants never see the light of day. Avent will track memorable plant introduction successes, explain bad horticultural marketing disasters, and blow up some common plant exploration myths. You will never look at plants the same way again! Tony Avent is owner of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens and Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. (This is the nursery from which HMNS obtained our beloved corpse flower plant, Lois, when she was a tiny tuber.) This lecture is cosponsored with The Mercer Society with additional support from Houston Advanced Research Center and Kava King Products.

 

 

Tickets $18, Members $12

 

9/4/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Growing an Ark: The Expanding Role of Gardens in Plant Conservation by Peter Wyse Jackson

 

Often referred to as “living museums,” over 3,000 botanic gardens are known in 175 countries and territories worldwide, most of which were established since 1950. Botanic gardens’ efforts to rescue plants from extinction through expanded research, conservation programs, and environmental education is leading to their increasingly influential role in the development of international policies in biodiversity conservation. Peter Wyse Jackson will take you on an around-the-world journey that showcases a wide range of some of the most significant successes and contributions by botanic gardens, both individually and collectively.

 

Peter Wyse Jackson, Ph.D. is director of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and former Secretary-General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

 

This lecture is cosponsored with The Mercer Society.

11/6/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity and Oil Spill Resilience by Wes Tunnell

 

The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most ecologically and economically valuable bodies of water on Earth producing 1.4 billion pounds of commercial fishery landings each year valued at $660 million, and it harbors 15,419 species. In contrast to this great biodiversity and productivity, there are environmental impacts and problems that contend with a healthy Gulf. Large percentages of Gulf habitats have been lost due to many environmental insults, such as overfishing, habitat loss and destruction, degraded water quality, extensive coastal development, and climate change. Dr. Wes Tunnel will explain how the Gulf appears quite resilient in the face of all of these problems, and what a tipping point of too many problems might eventually cause. Dr. Wes Tunnell is Associate Director and Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.  He serves as adjunct curator of malacology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This lecture is co-sponsored by Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

10/13/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Home Front: Texas in WWII by Mike Vance

 

The Texas home front during World War II was the beginning of a shift that would change Texas from rural to urban as half a million Texans moved to cities to fill industrial jobs. Women, still not allowed to serve on a jury, were suddenly doing essential work for the war effort, in factories, air fields or petrochemical labs. The state was home to a myriad of military bases. All along the coast were anti-aircraft guns, concrete bunkers and even reconnaissance blimps. German U-boats did indeed ply Gulf waters, looking for Allied shipping while captured Germans picked Texas fruit and tended Texas livestock. Mike Vance of Houston Arts and Media, who is producing a documentary about this subject, shares some of the stories of sacrifice and change that make this one of the most fascinating times in Texas history.

8/26/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Houston’s Prehistoric Energy Corridor by Jason Barrett

 

In the fall of 1996, during the planning stages for Houston's Grand Parkway, archaeologists discovered a prehistoric site on a low floodplain mound along the banks of Cypress Creek. The site, later named Dimond Knoll, yielded the greatest density of prehistoric stone artifacts among any site recorded previously in the region. This rich artifact record at Dimond Knoll --going back as far as the Late Paleoindian period (ca. 8000 B.C.) with a prolific Late Prehistoric (ca. 700-1500 A.D.) assemblage of artifacts --sheds new light on the prehistoric heritage of the Houston area, providing evidence for recurring visitation by mobile foraging groups spanning a period of nearly ten millennia. The nearly 1,000 artifacts recovered and analyzed reveals shifts in adaptive strategies and the influence of external culture areas, and suggests that trade corridors weaving through Texas' coastal region were established several thousand years earlier than previously assumed.

 

Dr. Jason Barrett, archaeologist with the Texas Department of Transportation's Environmental Affairs Division, will explore the dynamic cultural and environmental factors that characterized the Houston area prior to the arrival of Europeans. Barrett directed the intensive archaeological investigations undertaken in 2012 which gave rise to one of the most successful public outreach efforts ever initiated by TxDOT's Archeological Studies Branch.

 

This lecture is sponsored by the Houston Archeology Society.

10/1/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Natural History and Aesthetics - Why Should We Care About Nature? by Harry Greene

 

The diversity of life on Earth is under serious threats from multiple human-related causes, and science plays well-known roles in addressing management aspects of this problem. Dr. Harry W. Greene will describe how natural history also plays a vital role in enhancing our appreciation for organisms and environments, thereby influencing value judgments that ultimately underlie all conservation. I will first explain how an 18th  century philosopher's distinction between "beauty" and "sublime" can be used in the context of Darwin's notion of "descent with modification," then illustrate this approach with frogs, snakes, African megafauna, Longhorns, and California Condors. Dr. Harry Greene is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University. He is a popular author and will be signing copies of his latest book Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art following the lecture.

 

This lecture is co-sponsored by Rice University's Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

 

9/22/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture - Plant Conservation in a Rapidly Changing World by Peter Raven

 

 

 

 

The animals, plants, and other organisms of our planet collectively make our lives on Earth possible, and yet we are destroying their habitats, changing the climate, introducing weeds, diseases and pests widely, and overharvesting many of them. In turn, these factors are driven by our rapidly growing population, increasing consumption levels, and use of destructive technologies. As a result, we could drive to extinction more than half the kinds of plants and animals that exist now within the next 75 years or so.

 

For plants, the world has more than 400,000 species. In the U.S. alone, some 4,000 of the estimated 19,000 kinds of plants, and in Texas nearly 300 of the roughly 4,800 native species are of conservation concern – 27 of them already federally-listed.

 

Fortunately plants can be saved through genetic seed banks, the establishment of protected areas and botanic garden collections.Dr. Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, will describe the efforts to save as many these species in the USA as possible, while we still have time to do so. The Center for Plant Conservation, of which Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is a member, consists of 40 similar institutions that are leading this conservation effort.

 

This lecture is cosponsored with The Mercer Society with additional support from Houston Advanced Research Center and Kava King Products.

 

 

9/25/2014
6:30 PM
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Lecture: Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter by Katherine Freese

 

The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe—from our bodies and the air we breathe, to the planets and stars—constitute only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest are known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. Dr. Katherine Freese, one of today's foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter, will share the inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science: What is the universe made of? Dr. Freese will share why we may be on the verge of solving this mystery. Following the lecture, Dr. Freese will sign copies of her new book The Cosmic Cocktail, which provides the foundation needed to fully fathom humankind's quest to understand the universe.

9/3/2014
6:30 PM
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