Last November, the Smithsonian announced the opening of a new exhibit that would allow people to explore fossils and artifacts online in 3D completely for free. Certain items will even be available for download and could be replicated using a 3D printer by anybody for research use or for instruction at any level.
As IFLScience reported last fall, Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum complex, has made these 3D exhibits interactive. Aside from rotating and measuring the objects online, the internal structure is available to explore for certain items.
One digitized exhibit is an ancient whale bed that was discovered while construction crews were expanding a highway in Chile. The scientists were under a time crunch, so they digitally recorded the scene in order to quickly retrieve the bones, and then were able to go back and look at the data later, solving the mystery of how those whales became beached in that location anyway.
The 3D online exhibit is about to get some incredible new members as they are digitizing T. rex bones as part of their updated dinosaur and fossil hall which will open its doors in 2019. The bones, which are on a 50 year loan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will be available to explore online as well as download and make 3D printed replicas.
Mashable interviewed members of the Smithsonian team working on the project about the upcoming exhibit. "As a researcher, this is compelling because I can literally hold these bones in my bare hands, wherever I am. It allows you to study something from anywhere," paleontologist Nick Pyenson told Mashable. "But a 10-year-old might be inspired in a different way. And that's part of the frontier. The same 10-year-old in the U.S. can now see and experience what the same 10-year-old in Chile can, as long as they have a web connection.”
Some other 3D exhibits worth checking out:
Fossil dolphin skull: This is the 6-7 million year old fossilized skull of a new species of dolphin which has not been named yet. It was found near the coast of Panama and could be related to the river dolphins of South America.
Woolly Mammoth skeleton: This composite mammoth skeleton has been on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Ice Age exhibit since 1966, and the bones were originally found in Alaska.
CasA supernova remnant: The center of the exhibit is a neutron star, surrounded by jets and a shockwave from moments after the explosion.
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[Story via Eric Larson, Mashable]