Sunday, April 08, 2007

Museums & other diversions

Some time ago I had opportunities to go to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, the National Science Museum in Ueno, and to take a day trip to Choshi. I had never been to the National Science Museum here before, figuring Japan had more local history and culture to offer than universal science, but realize now that I was taking science for granted until an anti-science government came to power in the United States.

Here is a scene at B2 - the best floor of the National Science Museum. There is Lucy, some black guy strolling out of Africa to kick Lucy's australopithecine ass, looks like a homo sapiens to me, and a classic European caveman, maybe a Cro-Mag before he got dressed up for the ice age? Cellphone photography was very bad in the spotlight-lit exhibits of the museum. Halfway through touring exciting B2 I realized that this would be controversial in at least some parts of the United States. Like maybe Kansas, but let's not pin everything on them. Some prudish North American communities might not even allow the freely exhibited genitalia if the local Jesus militia outnumbers or outguns the museum supporters.

Since their beginnings some four billion years ago, life forms have become increasingly diverse due to the ongoing process of environmental adaptation. Evolution involves an endless cycle of emergence and extinction of different species. Human beings, part of the mammal group which flourished following the demise of the dinosaurs, have acquired highly developed adaptive capabilities, thanks to superior dexterity and powers of reasoning. This adaptive capacity has enabled humans to extend their reach to all corners of the Earth. In this exhibit, you can trace the evolutionary path and learn how plants and animals have adapted to the changing environment.
Yup, them there's fightin' words.

Seeing many dozens of extinct mammals there makes me feel we are all the same organism, increases my recent vegetarian tendencies, and makes it seem much more likely that humans are heading for the extinction file along with 99% of all species that have ever lived.

Speaking of museums, for some reason I found the blog Watashi to Tokyo, which also had an intense post about museums which are less suitable for elementary schoolchildren, such as the "International Hihokan Erotic Museum in Japan". Photos on Mari's flickr site here. Mari seems to have gotten a tattoo of her blog name -- but isn't Tokyo misspelled "Toko"? Should somebody tell her? Does she care? Is it worth being unable to enter Japanese hot springs? Or maybe a little makeup or something could work around that eventuality. Whatever. Fun blog, anyway.

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