Archive for May 9th, 2012

Behind the Scenes at the Smithsonian

May 9th, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Guest blogger: Lindsey Bowman (’12). As part of CUR’s Posters on the Hill event, we took a behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. National Meteorite Collection at the Smithsonian. Our host was Dr. Cari Corrigan.

Dr. Corrigan showed us meteorites from the asteroid belt.

This is an Fe-Ni meteorite. The pink and blue colors are a reflection, but the green areas are olivine crystals.

This core of an iron meteorite has been etched with nitric acid to reveal the widmanstatten pattern. The dark spots are iron sulfide inclusions.

This is the famous Allende carbonaceous chondrite.

Next, we toured the Entomology Collections with USDA Entomologist Dr. John Brown, whose specialty is Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies).

We started on the 7th floor of the building at a cabinet labeled "Oh My!" where he showed us jaw-dropping, giant, colorful bugs.

Dr. Brown then took us to the "ugly little brown moths" that are the focus of his research. They feed on kiwi and avocado crops.

Finally, Dr. Brown showed us bright blue butterflies. The color of these butterflies won't fade over time because it's a structural optical feature of their wings.