Friday, October 31, 2008

In and Under the Rainforest

Post number two about our recent trip to the California Academy of Sciences.
One of the major exhibit spaces is a four story, globe shaped rainforest. It was an amazing space, really well thought out, and rainforest warm and steamy inside.

Here's what it looks like from the outside:

I just loved all the curves and shapes and intersections of the various rooflines.
This is from the first floor looking up. The curving spiral walkway was apparently very hard to engineer as far as how much concrete to plan for. My dad was explaining the complex math calculations they had to make, good thing they have a bunch of scientists around to ask such things. Also in this picture is a vine reaching from some leafy plants down to a giant ant nest. The leafcutter ants were walking up and down the vine with their leaf pieces, and there was a acrylic window into the ant nest, wow, cool! I admire ants, don't you?
A wall of rainforest plants, all the shapes and sizes of pitcher plants are so intriguing, they look like they could various human body parts.
I almost put my hand down on this moth (or is a butterfly?). There were at least 10 different types flying around in the dome along with rainforest birds too. Zooming over your head, landing on peoples' shoulders and trying unsuccesfully to cling to the smooth railing. We wondered if the birds eat the butterflies like they do in the real rainforest?
My parents enjoy a sit down in the fish tunnel which takes you under the rainforest water feature. Some people just walked through without barely a look up! We sat for at least ten minutes, spellbound by the view. My folks recently went on a trip to the Amazon and said they were glad that this water wasn't as muddy as the real deal, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten to see all the fish.
Here's a great picture of Zach checking out all the action in the fish tunnel.
I just love this picture of my mom sitting in the fish tunnel.
It was fun to sit and look up to the sunlight coming through that living roof I wrote about the other day. The circular lights are the portholes on the domes up above. The contrast of this large dark shapes circulating overhead was kind of threatening, must be an ingrained human response. I believe this big guy was an armored catfish.

The red tailed catfish kept bumping into the armored catfish (or was it a gar as my dad said?). It was herding it like a sheepdog, very funny.

An albino gecko. It was fun to look through the glass case and get to see close up the structure of the paws that allow them to climb up walls. Pretty freaky eyes though!

Outside the rainforest now, here is the always unreal looking albino alligator. You can see the source of that interesting shadow over his tail in the next photo.

I'm so glad they re-used the original seahorse railing around the alligator/snapping turtle pit.
Isn't it just so classic? I have always loved the shape of seahorses, and am fascinated with how they move through the water. It is kind of strange in this futuristic, very modern design space to have this vintage brass railing. But I think it ties the history of this institution together really effectively.
The other dome/sphere in the building is a planetarium, which had a really great presentation, Fragile Planet narrated by Sigourney Weaver. It really put Earth into perspective on a universal scale, kind of mind blowing really. I have to say that I truly missed the old style star projector planetarium show, this just seemed like an Imax film. This is Zach and my Dad in the dimness.

And finally, I'll close this extravaganza out with a picture taken in the bathroom. Every stall has a quote about water. Which is a great thing to think about as you flush away another 8 gallons of perfectly drinkable water...

I wish I had taken some pictures of the Hall of Africa and the penguins (penguin cam!).

I think I was too shaken up by the man who came up behind us and yelled "It's A LIE!", as the boys and I were animatedly discussing the human origins exhibit. We three turned around and just rolled our eyes at him. Wonder if he asked for his money back??


Walker Lady said...

Great commentary on the museum! I've enjoyed your posts...spooky or not! :)
Happy Halloween!

meloukhia said...

Ooooh, now I can't wait to get down the coast to see the new Academy. These photos look awesome! (I found you via NaBloPoMo, by the way, so I'm not a random creepy stalker. I swear.)