Archive | August, 2013

Studying the Earth’s Ecosystems from Space: The Endeavour

Space Shuttle Endeavour, the fifth space-worthy NASA shuttle, is now a permanent exhibit at the California Science Center.

Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center

Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center

 

Los Angeles’ acclaimed California Science Center underwent a significant upgrade in the Fall of 2012, when it became the new home of the retired Space Shuttle Endeavour.  Space Shuttle Endeavour, the fifth space-worthy NASA shuttle to be built, arrived at the California Science Center on Sunday, October 14 2012.  Thousands of people celebrated its arrival, lining up throughout the streets of Los Angeles to catch a glimpse.  Since Endeavour opened to the public on October 30, 2012 over 2.5 million people have visited the California Science Center – a dramatic increase from the Science Center’s annual average of 1.6 million guests.

Havasi Wilderness Foundation has provided funding for inner-city schools to visit the California Science Center and its Endeavour exhibit.  362,000 students visit the center annually as a part of school or youth programs.

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Lotusland: A Botanical Paradise in Santa Barbara

Splendid estate-turned-botanical garden is home to a wealth of exotic plants and artistic landscaping

Asian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), the namesake flower of Lotusland

Asian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), the namesake flower of Lotusland

 

A few weeks ago we visited a Southern California paradise that many have not heard of.  Lotusland, a majestic estate boasting an extensive collection of exotic plants, is located in the foothills of Santa Barbara.  The estate was purchased in 1941 by well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, Madame Ganna Walska, who began transforming the property into a lush and flamboyant plant haven.  After Walska’s death in 1984, Lotusland became a nonprofit botanical garden and opened to the public in 1993.

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The Baobab: A Peculiar African Tree with Potential

Baobab trees, known for their unusual and larger-than-life appearances, have been utilized by animals and humans for ages.  The fruit is now making its way into the international market.

 

There are eight species of Baobab: six native to Madagascar, one native to Australia, and one native to mainland Africa

There are eight species of Baobab: six native to Madagascar, one native to Australia, and one native to mainland Africa

 

The African Baobab (Andansonia digitata), also known as the Bottle Tree, Upside-down Tree, Boab, or simply the Baobab, is one of eight baobab species worldwide.  It is the only species native to mainland Africa; the others are native to Madagascar (six species) and Australia (one species).

The Baobab occurs in dryer habitats of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, commonly found in savanna, scrubland, and semi-desert.  It is a massive tree with a thick, swollen trunk.  It is the subject of many legends and folklore throughout Africa, and has been utilized by several civilizations in a multitude of ways for centuries.

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