Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dinosaurs - Ziapelta and The Altair 8800

We geek-out over rocks and bones. Especially old rocks and bones with cool stories.

What better place than a natural history museum for us to spend a few hours?!

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque is very well done. In addition to numerous dinosaurs and others reconstructed from skeletons found in New Mexico, we enjoy the walk-through volcano, the walk-through cave, and the fossilworks laboratory in the natural history section.

Just when we think "there's nothing else to find" - a new dinosaur is discovered in 2011!
Displayed in a small dark room, Ziapelta is the newest kid on this block
Seismosaurus towers over Bill
One of the largest intact skull specimens - Pentaceratops
Fossils are darkened to show detail - Eudimorphodon (one of several winged-dinosaurs here)
Models of dire wolves from skeletal remains found in Northern New Mexico - one of many extinct mammals on display
Patience and good eye sight are important in this room
The experience of walking through molten lava is impacted by the screaming pre-schoolers "learning" about volcanoes
What's happening inside the volcano
How and where crystals and semi-precious stones are formed from volcanic activity
The cave is interesting, but you really need a flashlight!
While we try to avoid crowds at places of interest on weekends, sometimes weekdays are worse when school groups have field trips. Still, with funding issues in most school districts, I'm happy when students are able to experience the wealth of information at good museums. Students being the operative word. It implies the ability (if not always the desire) to learn from the trip.

I'm confident that the pre-schoolers who were dragged through the dinosaur and volcano exhibits by their parents learned very little. They were all much more interested in Tessa than anything in the museum. At best they were bored, at worst they were scared of the large teeth, loud noises, and dark passages. Fortunately they were spared the rest of the museum - for all of us.

The science area is every bit as fascinating as what we've already enjoyed. 

The space section focuses on Mars and Pluto. A replica of the Mars Rover is popular and I miss taking a photo. A film and the Planetarium are additional tickets that we'll see next time. 

If the planets were this size, all the smaller planets would fit in the city limits of Albuquerque, while Pluto would be in Santa Fe - see Pluto?
I'm glad he's still in the exhibit - his location cracks me up
It is great to learn about the reality of global warming in a non-political arena, and about the beginnings of life in a non-religious one. Because - Science.

The exhibit includes a timeline filled with scientific records
The beginning of the Emergence exhibit - how and why life began
All of this, and then by far my favorite exhibit in this area is Start Up. Full of photos, documents, testimonies, and equipment - it is the incredible story (the relatively short story) of the personal computer. Several familiar faces are included.

A huge impact in a human lifetime
Humble beginnings making history
This example reminds me that the computer in our smart phones is more powerful than the ones used to land a man on the moon - and is a gazillion times smaller!
Compare the disc on the left to the memory card in your camera!
Replica of first computer mouse - 1968
A large, interactive "game" that teaches you how to program computers. Wish my feet weren't hurting by this point!

This interactive display of the development of desktop computers in just nine years is very well done, and fun to "play" with.
The first "personal" computer, the Altair 8800, uses a system of switches to input, and lights to respond. Adding 2+2 requires 12 steps with the answer being a code of different lights.

Henry Edward Roberts is credited with the creation of the "micro-computer". His kits used Microsoft's first programming language. 

This spark that changed all our lives started in a garage in Alburquerque, making this exhibit not only fascinating, but very relevant.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day of discovery. Both Ziapelta and Altair 8800 are extinct. And both tell stories of the evolution of life as we know it today.

Tuesday I tackle the missing prescriptions issue which takes several hours, a long phone call, and a couple trips to Walgreens, but by mid-afternoon I have them in hand. Bill fixes a broken piece on the front of the motorhome, and we get the oil changed in the Jeep.

And that gets us ready to leave Albuquerque on Wednesday morning. 


  1. I love museums like this. What a trip to go from dinos to dino computers.

    1. Just the right amount of information - not overwhelming like so many of them.

  2. Museums are great. There are so many out there that I still haven't seen. We can learn so many "cool" things by visiting and what fun!

    1. Fun is right. Amazing how interesting all this information is when we have the time to enjoy it.

  3. Great pictures Jodee! I enjoyed reading on the newest member of the dinosaurs. It's always interesting on where they found them. 😀

    1. I'm amazed at how many dinosaurs have been found in this area. We're in Arizona now - Holbrook - and there are dinos all over the place!

  4. David had to switch his prescriptions to Walgreens from CVS because of his insurance and finds that the service isn't nearly as good. So agree with you about the age inappropriate things parents do with preschoolers. Have you been to the Native American museum in Albequerque? Or did I somehow miss your visit. It was a highlight for us.

    1. We ran out of time, but I really wanted to see it. Next time this route I'll see the one in Santa Fe and ABQ for sure. I'm fortunate that 90% of the time our prescriptions arrive by mail where we are.

  5. Very nice tour of the museum. Thank you!

    -- Anne