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The Power of Science and the Beauty of Art Intersect in a New Exhibit! Glass Tubing, Gas Canisters, Bubbling Liquids and Zapping Electricity Form a Working Science Experiment and a Work of Art!

March 11, 2013

Test Tubes in the Origins of Life lab

Origins of Life
Origins of Life - Color Change in Vienna

Origins of Life - Color Change in Vienna
Origins of Life - Night Shot

Origins of Life - Night Shot
Origins of Life - Chemical Components

Origins of Life - Chemical Components
Origins of Life - Lab Test

Origins of Life - Lab Test
Origins of Life - The original experiments

Origins of Life - The original experiments

Celebrate the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s 40th Anniversary Year!


San Diego, CA—March 11, 2013—The new Origins of Life exhibit will make its debut at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center on Saturday, March 16, 2013, and remain through June 9, 2013. Science and art intersect in the new exhibit, where glass tubing, gas canisters, bubbling liquids and zapping electricity form a working science experiment and a work of art.


Origins of Life reimagines the famous experiments carried out by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey at the University of Chicago in the 1950s as a functional art installation. These early experiments simulated the chemical and energetic conditions of the early earth, 4 billion years ago, resulting in the production of a number of organic molecules necessary for the origin of life.


What is the science? In 1950, the physicist Harold Urey proposed that it might be possible to recreate the atmosphere of the primordial Earth in a closed container and synthesize organic molecules from inorganic compounds by adding an energy source such as lightning to the mix. A graduate student by the name of Stanley Miller carried out the experiment, producing within days several amino acids—the building blocks of proteins. The Miller-Urey experiment quickly became a scientific and public icon of origins of life experimentation.


In this exhibit, we have created an updated version of the apparatus used by Miller. Although the Miller experiment is decades old, new and important variations on it are still being implemented. Variations include using artificial sea water instead of distilled water or running the experiment through multiple cycles to see what complex organic compounds are formed. In the installation on display here, we have mimicked the primordial sea in the reaction flask to see how it interacts with the primordial atmosphere created by gases in the tanks.


This live experiment continues the investigation to consider whether changing sea and atmosphere conditions will yield not only amino acids, but nucleic acids, too—the building blocks of genetic information and sources of cellular energy. The staff and a core group of volunteers will be available for interpretation of the exhibit and answering visitors’ questions; and they will also collect actual samples and record data as the experiment is run––a new challenge!


Origins of Life is an EAGER (Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research) project to conduct ongoing experiments on the chemical precursors to life. The experiments expand on the earlier work of Stanley Miller and Harold Urey, which continues to stimulate new investigations and publications, including experiments being conducted on the International Space Station.


The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is located at 1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101. Gallery Admission, including access to all eight exhibit galleries, is $11.75 for adults; $9.75 for children & seniors. The Fleet is open 365 days a year; Monday–Thursday 10AM–5PM, Friday & Saturday 10AM–7PM and Sunday 10AM–6PM.  For more information, call (619) 238-1233 or visit our website at http://www.rhfleet.org.


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Celebrate the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s 40th Anniversary Year!

Forty years ago, a spark ignited our imaginations!  March 9, 2013 kicks off a year-long celebration of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and its 40 years of success in bringing hands-on science to our San Diego community. Forty years ago, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center opened its doors and brought interactive exhibits and the world’s first IMAX® Dome Theater to San Diego. Today, the Fleet inspires minds and connects individuals to science and technology through more than 100 “do touch” exhibits for all ages and amazing IMAX films and planetarium shows in the recently renovated Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. Enjoy our year-long celebration, featuring a blockbuster exhibition, incredible events and dynamic educational experiences.


About the Fleet Science Center:

The Fleet Science Center connects people of all ages to the possibilities and power of science to create a better future. At the science center, you can explore and investigate more than 100 interactive exhibits that pique your curiosity and become immersed in an IMAX film adventure that shows the wonders of the planet--and beyond--in the Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. For young science enthusiasts, the Fleet offers science workshops both at the Fleet and at schools throughout San Diego County. For adults, we offer events like Suds & Science and Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar™ at locations all over San Diego. We support communities by leveraging science resources to meet local needs. Teachers are encouraged to join our Teacher Partner Program and take advantage of our professional development opportunities. Additionally, at the Fleet Science Center, visitors will find unique educational toys and games, books, IMAX DVDs and more in the North Star Science Store, and pizzas, sandwiches, salads and healthy treats in our Craveology cafe. Located in Balboa Park, at 1875 El Prado, two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd., the Fleet is San Diego's science center. Science starts here and opens a world of possibility. For information regarding current admission prices, visit our website at fleetscience.org.
About Balboa Park:
Located near downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urbancultural park in the United States. First established by the City of San Diego in 1868, it is also one of the oldest city parks in the nation and is the most visited single destination in San Diego. Its 1,200 acres include 17 museums, many gardens and attractions, the San Diego Zoo, miles of hiking trails, and multiple athletic complexes to explore and discover. For more information, visit balboapark.org.

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