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Earth Theater

The new Geography Show changes with each audience.

Earth Theater enters the second half of its first year with high hopes, after debuting on December 18, 1999, at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. 

Theater manager Kerry Handron says Earth Theater was the second installation of this unique technology anywhere.  "A third one opened last month, and a couple more are opening as well this year, so it is becoming very popular."

The theater showcases cutting edge, state-of-the-art technology, with software supplied by Carnegie Mellon University that enables audience participation.   Utilizing 'sky vision,' a large format digital technology, the theater projects a 3,500-pixel image onto a spherical screen that is 40 feet in diameter.  The image is 210 degrees vertically by 30 degrees horizontally.  "We are a leader with this.  We are the second one to have it, and the only one to have the screen down at audience level, rather than above their heads," Handron explains.  The shows are produced locally in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, CMU, and Home Run Pictures. 

Attendance started strong, with the theater's grand opening Millennium Show bringing in over 1,700 people.  Total theater attendance since stands at 12,000, with weekly numbers averaging around 460 people. 

Plans are underway to promote the theater more.  Some of the things being considered include putting up screens behind the museum's admission desks, promoting the theater with previews and excerpts, and increasing advertising.

The theater's second show will be a geography show especially for first through fifth grade students, which will address the educational standards of geography  that many schools are now implementing.  The show will have a slightly different format, and the  presenter will be looking for interaction from the audience.  The expereince of the show will change with different audiences.

Earth Theater is located beyond Dinosaur Hall and the fossil dig.  The cost for the show is $2.00, plus museum admission.

Is T. rex: a Predator or Scavenger?

Have you voted?

Is the creature we love to hate a victim of bad press?  Was T. rex actually a mild-mannered and cowardly scavenger?  Carnegie Museum of Natural History is calling for your vote by putting the fearsome star of film and legend on trial for murdering a triceratops--in the exhibit T. rex on trial.

Using scientific methods, visitors recreate the "crime scene" and come to a determination as to the carnivore's guilt or innocence.  You can compare your verdict with that of "Judge" Jack R. Horner, Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.

Balloting is hot and heavy.  Preliminary results are leaning in favor T. rex's guilt, but this could change with your vote. You can cast your two cents worth by dropping a coin - any coin will do - in the voting boxes marked for guilty, innocent, or hung jury.

Visitors to the Museum of the Rockies, which conducted its own trial, have concluded that T. rex was innocent, by a margin of 55 to 38 percent, with 7 percent undecided.

The exhibit - and trial - is being held from May 27 - September 4, 2000, and is free with museum admission.  Don't forget!  Your vote is important.

Guide To The Mammals of Pennsylvania

Joe Merritt’s field guide is a prized resource for professionals and amateurs 

While there is an abundance of field guides available on just about every outdoors and wildlife subject imaginable—one of the best is about Pennsylvania's wild and furry critters. The handsomely produced Guide To The Mammals of Pennsylvania is the work of Powdermill Nature Reserve's Resident Director, Dr. Joseph F. Merritt, and is now in its second printing. 

Co-published by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1987, the book occupies a niche market in Pennsylvania as a favorite of environmentalists and a public looking for an authoritative field guide on the state’s mammal populations. Backyard wildlife enthusiasts as well as professionals in wildlife management have made the book a prized resource. 

Mel Schake, the Wildlife Information Specialist Supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Southwest Region, says Guide To The Mammals of Pennsylvania was given to all their Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCO) when it was originally released.  Schake, who has 15 years of experience in the field as a conservation officer, recalls,  "We were originally issued a guide published by the Game Commission, but it wasn't nearly as comprehensive as the Merritt book.  The great thing about this book is that it is very specific to Pennsylvania." 

The Merritt book is invaluable in the field.  With its easy-to-read, non-scientific terms, plus illustrations, and color and black and white photography, the guide includes descriptive information, as well as ecology, behavior, reproduction and development, and state status of wild animal species.  A unique feature is the inclusion of selected mammal tracks. 

The original printing of  9,500 copies has been exhausted,  and it is currently being re-issued.  The Guide To The Mammals of Pennsylvania may be purchased at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's store, and at select area bookstores, for $19.95.


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