DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Earth's temperature change is shown. Relative to the year 2000, blue colors are cooler, green colors are about the same, and yellow and red represent warmer temperatures.
Bishop Museum's giant sphere offers a space-eye view of Earth's 500 million-year-old saga
A changing climate and potentially devastating effects on Earth from global warming are dramatically portrayed with an innovative Bishop Museum exhibit.
Bishop Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Christmas. Admission is $14.95 for adults and $11.95 for youths 4-12 and seniors. There are special rates for kamaaina and military; children age 3 and younger and Bishop Museum members get free admission. For more information, call 847-3511 or see www.bishopmuseum.org.
"Science on a Sphere" takes visitors into space for a global view of what the planet might have looked like 500 million years ago, before continents separated, to the present and into the next century.
Animated color images are projected on a 6-foot-diameter, 40-pound white fiberglass sphere suspended from the ceiling of the Watumull Planetarium.
"Imagine you're floating above the Earth on a satellite," said Leon Geschwind, museum science educator. "It can change your perspective."
Images are shown of what the planet might look like if fossil fuel emissions and deforestation continue, including warming temperatures, rising seas swamping islands and low regions, droughts, fires, coral bleaching, mosquitoes and spread of diseases.
Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and other weather phenomena are shown around the planet in near real time.
"A lot of people don't realize what a restless, active Earth we live on," Geschwind said. "It's constantly going off."
The Bishop Museum was one of the first four science and technology centers receiving Environmental Literacy grants from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to install a science sphere and develop programs.
The exhibit opened in March with an automated program about Earth and other planets in the solar system and a live show, "Science of Paradise."
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Education Director Michael Shanahan, Education Department Planetarium A/V Technician Jon Grimaldi and science educator Leon Geschwind stand next the centerpiece of Bishop Museum's "Science on a Sphere" exhibit, showing the climatic pattern of Earth during Hurricane Katrina.
The presentation about Hawaii's climate and winds show "why it's so darned nice most of the time," said Mike Shanahan, the museum's director of education.
A new sphere exhibit opening next Saturday will focus on global warming -- an issue suggested by outgoing museum President Bill Brown, Shanahan said. Museum members will preview the exhibit Friday night.
Its "elemental beauty" was described in the museum's journal, Ka 'Elele: "Part of that beauty is in how the view from space unifies our vision," it said.
"There in the rotunda -- all that atmospheric data -- the weather fronts, the cyclonic storms, the rhythms of the season and of night and day, the cycles of the jet streams, the infrared blossom of El Nino in the warm southern sea, all of it integrates in a gorgeous visual fugue.
"Even Hawaii, all alone in the middle of the Pacific, is a part of the music."
Satellite images show visitors what the world looks like now -- "a current snapshot," Geschwind said.
They can also see parts of the planet becoming redder and redder as Earth's temperature warms from atmospheric carbon dioxide. The impact on Hawaii is tied in on a separate screen.
"Some models predict ice will be completely gone by 2050," Geschwind said. "What's neat about the sphere is we can show the relationship of clouds, hurricanes and sea surface temperatures."
NASA provided a lot of planet and hurricane data for the exhibit, and the museum team, with audiovisual technician Jon Grimaldi, produced programs with climate models and other data from UH scientists.
The exhibit includes interactive stations and computer-based activities, which will explain global climate changes. For example, visitors can compare Earth's temperature to their body temperature in one called "Earth Has a Fever."
"We're just beginning to tap the potential of the sphere," Shanahan said.