Author Archives: Eva Amsen

Nikko Natural Science Museum

IMG_2558A few years ago I was in Japan for a conference, and tagged on some extra days to explore a bit more of the country together with my sister. We mostly stayed in and around Tokyo, but we took a two-day trip to Nikko, further inland. Nikko is a small town with a beautiful heritage site, with lots of temples, and a famous wood carving of the original “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys.

Close to Nikko, just a 20-minute bus ride away, is a waterfall that all the guidebooks recommended, so we had to check it out. The waterfall is further uphill, at Lake Chuzenji – a lake formed after a volcanic eruption blocked off the river thousands of years ago.

Before we got on the bus, we became a bit worried by the fog we had seen creeping onto the mountain. Hoping that it would clear eventually, and with no further days left in Nikko, we decided to risk it and journeyed to Lake Chuzenji.

The further we travelled up the mountain, the thicker the fog got.

Once we got out of the bus at the top, we walked toward the waterfall, barely seeing more than about twenty or thirty feet in front of us.

In the distance, we saw what looked like a… bear?

Coming closer, the bear stayed motionless next to a sign. It was a wooden statue.


The sign was for the Nikko Natural Science Museum, but we were aiming for the falls, so we didn’t stop at the museum.

Last week, more than two years after visiting the Lake Chuzenji area, I was looking at my photos again, and decided to look into this Natural Science Museum that the bear was trying to entice us to visit.

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AMNH Shelf Life

I’ve never been to the American Museum of Natural History (it’s on the “to visit” list!) but now the museum is coming to me via the magical medium of YouTube. AMNH has launched a video series called Shelf Life, through which you can get a behind the scenes tour of parts of their collection.

The show debuted in November, with an episode on collections in general (and fish in particular). Two more episodes have since gone up, one per month. The production quality of the videos is really good, but they managed to stay within the YouTube attention span.

The most recent episode is about the coelacanth, which actually ties in nicely with my last post about the Tiktaalik, so you might want to watch that.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if they modeled it after the Field Museum’s (acquired) Brain Scoop series, but it is clearly a different concept, with different people on screen in every episode. Each episode is also accompanied by a web page with more information, so it’s more in depth than just the videos. I really liked the turtles and taxonomy episode and web page.

It’s good to see another museum embrace online video to share their collection, and I can’t wait until February’s episode, which is all about the olinguito!

LEGO Scientists in “New Students In The Lab”

Ellesmere Island


Town of Eureka, Nunavut.

Think it’s cold where you are right now? It’s not as cold as Ellesmere Island. The average temperature of its capital city Grise Fiord (population 130) is −16.5 °C (2.3 °F), according to Wikipedia. Only about 150 people (maybe even fewer) live on Ellesmere Island, and the permanent population of the town of Eureka is zero. Eureka, as you might have guessed, is predominantly a research station.

Research on Ellesmere Island in northern Nunavut (Canada) focuses largely on weather and climate research, but perhaps its most famous discovery is Tiktaalik – a fish with limbs.


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The Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research for LEGO Researchers