Watch our Executive Director on Portland’s KATU AM Northwest!

Video

Executive Director Julian Gray was a special guest on KATU AMNW this morning! If you missed it, watch the video on KATU.com!

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Mystery Mineral Day- February 25!

Mystery Mineral Day is happening Saturday, February 25, from 10 AM to 2 PM at the museum. A panel of experts will be ready and waiting for you to bring your unknown rocks, minerals, fossils, gems, and potential meteorites for identification!

Have you always wondered what to call that cool crystal you picked up on a hike that one day? Did you inherit a collection, but it’s missing some labels? Do you think you may have found a fossil bone or a rock from outer space? Our experts are volunteering at this event just for you, so don’t be shy. Come on by!

This event is included with general admission.

New Museum Exhibit: “What’s inside a rock?”

Have you ever picked up a rock and wondered about what might be inside? This new exhibit puts everyday rocks under the microscope to show the beautiful secrets inside ordinary stones.

What's inside a rock?

This exhibit sheds light on some of the science behind the gorgeous minerals displayed at the museum. It’s great for families and people of all ages!

Come visit to discover the humble ingredient in over half the rocks on Earth’s surface and find out what, exactly, makes something a crystal. You can even check it out during the museum’s upcoming Summer Fest, taking place this year on August 6 & 7 from 10 AM through 5 PM.

Zircons are Forever at OMSI SciPub

zircon-x

Zoned zircon at 200x magnification. Image courtesy Union College.

Curator Leslie Moclock will be giving this month’s OMSI Science Pub lecture at the Venetian Theatre & Bistro in Hillsboro, OR.

Everyone knows that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. But have you ever wondered how we figured out that number? Come discover the secrets of geochronology and learn how scientists determine the age of rocks and fossils. From maps and sledgehammers to radioactive crystals and cutting-edge electronics, this talk illuminates the tools and techniques used to investigate the history of our Earth.

Date: Monday, June 27

Time: 7-9 PM

$5 suggested cover charge

Venetian Theatre  & Bistro
253 E. Main St., Hillsboro, Oregon

Meteorite and Family Fun Day this Saturday, May 23rd

Come out tomorrow between 10 AM and 5 PM for meteorite talks and science activities here at the Rice Museum. Admission will be reduced to $5 per person for the day (children 4 and under are still free). Check out the schedule of events below. In addition to the listed events, kids’ crafts will be running and available all day!

Meteorite Day Schedule Descriptions

Meteorites Bring the Building Blocks of Life

Meteorite Day at the Museum May 23, 2015 Visit us at the Rice NW Museum on Saturday, May 23, for our annual Meteorite Day. There will be guest lectures and special events for the family all day.

Scientific American reports that life began on meteorites. Well, actually the ingredients necessary to start the building blocks of life on this planet did.

The molecules that kick-started life on primordial Earth could have been made in space and delivered by meteorites, according to researchers in Italy. The group synthesised sugars, amino acids and nucleobases with nothing more than formamide, meteorite material and the power of a simulated solar wind, replicating a process they believe cooked up a prebiotic soup long before life existed on Earth.

Formamide is a simple organic compound first suggested as a starting material for the formation of prebiotic biomolecules back in 2001. The chemical has been detected in galactic centres and stellar nurseries, as well as comets and satellites. These latest experiments show that formamide, irradiated by the solar wind…and in the presence of powdered meteorites, gave rise to amino acids, carboxylic acids, sugars and nucleosides—the building blocks of DNA and RNA.

The scientists speculate that this could mean that life formed on other planets might share similarities with the life formed on earth.

Gibeon Meteorite at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals features many meteorites on exhibit discovered all around the world from Russia, Argentina, Namibia, the United States, and Australia. The extensive meteorite exhibit was put together by the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory from the Geology Department of Portland State University.

Take a moment as you enter the main gallery area near the entrance to run your fingers across the large Gibeon meteorite found in Africa for a bone chilling sensation. Made mostly of iron, touch it and know that you’ve actually touched space metal and maybe even the ingredients to life on this planet.

Related Articles

New Ichthyosaur Found in Rare Fossils

New findings in Scotland show ichthyosaurs are unique to the warm shallow waters of what is now Scotland during Jurassic period, 117-169 million years ago. A team of paleontologists headed by Dr Steve Brusatte of National Museums Scotland and the University of Edinburgh has discovered a new genus and species of ichthyosaur in rare fossils.

“During the time of dinosaurs, the waters of Scotland were prowled by big reptiles the size of motor boats. Their fossils are very rare, and only now, for the first time we’ve found a new species that was uniquely Scottish,” said Dr Brusatte, who is the first author of a paper published in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

The newfound species, named Dearcmhara shawcrossi, was a 4-meter long aquatic dolphin-like reptile. It was near the top of the food chain and preyed on fish and other reptiles.

History of the Solar System Found in Meteorite

Science Daily reports that planetary scientists from Curtin University found that a unique volcanic meteorite recovered in Western Australia may reveal the violent history of our solar system.

Associate Professor Fred Jourdan, along with colleagues Professor Phil Bland and Dr Gretchen Benedix from Curtin’s Department of Applied Geology, believe the meteorite is evidence that a series of collisions of asteroids occurred more than 3.4 billion years ago.

“This meteorite is definitely one-of-a-kind,” Dr Jourdan said.

“Nearly all meteorites we locate come from Vesta, the second largest asteroid in the solar system. But after studying the meteorite’s composition and orbit, it appears it derived from a large, unidentified asteroid that was split apart during the collisions.”

The research team dated the meteorite with the argon-argon technique, a well-known method for dating impact crater events, to offer a glimpse of the asteroid’s impact history.

Falling to earth in 2007 and believed to originate from Vesta, the scientific team found that the meteorite had not a single impact after 3.4 billion years ago until it arrived on earth, and they recorded three impact events between 3.6 billion and 3.4 billion years ago. This information confirms that some of the bombardment history of the solar system ended after 3.4 billion years, helping scientists with the timeline of the evolution of our region of space.

Meteorites on exhibit at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.You can read more about this discovery on the report from Curtin University.

The Rice Northwest Museum is home to an outstanding collection of meteorites on exhibit in cooperation with the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory of Portland State University. Each May, the museum celebrates the Annual Meteorite and Family Fun Day with extensive special exhibits, demonstrations, lectures, and more.

Interested in learning more about meteorites? Read our Meteorite article and visit the museum to touch the Gibeon Meteorite from Africa.

Curiousity Rover Finds Its First Meteorite on Mars

This week it was announced that NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found its first iron meteorite on Mars. The meteorite represents a time capsule for scientists to study and learn more about our universe.

Photograph from Curiousity on Mars of the largest Iron Meteorite found on Mars. Image by NASA.

Meteorites found on Mars are of special interest as they had little atmosphere to pass through on their way to the planet, and little weather to wear them away, keeping them almost as pristine as when they arrived in our solar system. Continue reading

The Meteorite

The Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum is home to many “out of this world” meteorites, most of them prepared and presented by the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory of Portland State University. On a visit to the museum, you will have a chance to touch our amazing Gibeon Meteorite from Africa. There is so much iron in that meteorite, it feels really cold to the touch.

Meteorites are naturally occurring objects that come from space and survive penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere. Most meteorites originate in the asteroid (an object in space too small to be a planet) belt between Mars and Jupiter, but some meteorites are pieces of Mars or the moon.

Every May, the Museum celebrates our annual Meteorite and Family Fun Day. Until them, let’s learn more about meteorites.

There are three main types of meteorites: stony, stony-iron and iron.

The most abundant type of meteorite is the stony meteorite, which accounts for over 90% of all recorded meteorite falls. The subgroup chondrites are most abundant. Iron meteorites account for ~5% of all meteorite falls.

Meteorite sizes vary greatly from small (dust) to large (5 to 7 miles wide). The frequency with which the Earth is bombarded by meteorites depends on the meteorite’s size. Small meteorites impact the Earth very frequently, whereas large meteorites impact much more rarely.

Meteorites are named after the locations where they are found. Oregon meteorites include an iron meteorite from Klamath Falls, a stony meteorite from Salem, an iron meteorite from Sams Valley, and an iron meteorite from Willamette.

Here is information about the specific types of meteorites.

Stony Meteorites

The stony meteorites are composed of mostly rocky material (silicate minerals) and contain a small amount of iron and nickel. There are two main types of stony meteorites – chondrites (have never been melted) and achondrites (melted and thus differentiated such that heavy metals sank to the core and the lighter silicates floated).

Stony-Iron Meteorites

The stony-irons are made up of an almost equal mixture of iron-nickel metal and silicate minerals. Pallasites are a common example of stony-iron meteorites.

Iron Meteorites

Iron meteorites are composed primarily of iron and nickel metal. These meteorites most likely represent the metallic cores of asteroid bodies.

More Information on Meteorites

To help you learn more about meteorites in general, here are some helpful educational resources and articles.