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Explore a Room of Skulls With Google Street View

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google street view

I’m not going to mince words here: skulls are awesome. So that’s why you need to check out the skull room at the California Academy of Sciences. The 4,000-square-foot exhibit holds over 640 skulls, all available to behold (and some to touch!).

The Academy wants its visitors to explore death as a means to explain life. “From an enormous bull elephant to a tiny elephant shrew, every skull tells a story about the life, death, and evolution of vertebrates,” the website says.

The most prominent segment is a 90-foot wide wall of California sea lion noggins. The inventory may seem like a lot, but it’s actually only one-sixth of the Academy’s scientific collection. Hidden amongst the impressive hoard are warthog, wolf, walrus, and other skulls that visitors are asked to pick out from the group.

On top of sea lion skulls, the Academy also offers interactive activities, flesh-eating beetles, and a full orca skeleton that bears a striking resemblance to mosasaurus.

In clockwise order: domestic sheep, helmeted hornbill, Ganges River dolphin, Malayan tapir.

If you are in the area, you can see this cool exhibit in person from now until the end of November. Those at a geographic disadvantage can also enjoy the morbid fun remotely via Google. Google’s Street View lets you peruse the museum right on your computer, so you don’t have to spend all that money on airfare.

On top of a virtual tour, you can also check out 3D views of some of the skulls in the exhibit. The only logical next step is to start 3D printing these things out and decorating your home with them. I recommend the creepy Ganges River Dolphin skull, which doubles as an aquatic chainsaw.

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Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Smithsonian
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Pop Culture
Inside the New Oprah Winfrey Exhibition at the National Museum of African American History
Smithsonian
Smithsonian

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has shown millions of visitors artifacts from black history, from Nat Turner’s Bible to Michael Jackson’s fedora, since opening in Washington D.C. in 2016. Now, there's a new reason for guests to visit the institution: This month, it launched an exhibition dedicated to the life and impact of Oprah Winfrey, Afro reports.

The exhibit, titled "Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture," traces the life of the iconic philanthropist and media personality. It starts with "America Shapes Oprah, 1950s–1980s," a section devoted to Oprah's childhood during the civil rights movement. It's followed by "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which highlights her 25-year talk show, and a final section called "Oprah Shapes America," which looks at the evolution and influence of her work. The exhibit also features Oprah memorabilia, such as a model of her childhood church, costumes from her films Beloved (1998) and The Color Purple (1985), and the red suit she wore when she gave everyone in her studio audience a free car.

Oprah was one of the people who helped make the National Museum of African American History and Culture a reality after it struggled to get off the ground for decades. She was the museum's largest donor before it opened and has given a total of $20 million to the institution.

Oprah toured "Watching Oprah" with her best friend and CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King before it opened, and wrote on Instagram, "Seeing everything under one roof brought tears to my eyes."

The exhibit is open now through the end of June 2019.

Oprah exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Oprah exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Oprah exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

[h/t Afro]

All images courtesy of Smithsonian.

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