Smithsonian Gardens’ Orchids: Interlocking Science and Beauty Smithsonian Gardens’ Orchids: Interlocking Science and Beauty – SOMETHING ABOUT SCIENCE

Smithsonian Gardens’ Orchids: Interlocking Science and Beauty

Smithsonian Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden are hosting the 20th annual orchid exhibition, titled “Orchids: Interlocking Science and Beauty.” Visitors will have a chance to admire over 300 orchids on display each day and learn how botany, horticulture, and technology are interlinked.

…[The] exhibit looks at how new ideas, technologies, and inventions change the way we study, protect, and enjoy orchids. Each new innovation is like a puzzle piece: it fills in gaps in our knowledge and creates a larger and more complex picture of orchids. (Smithsonian Gardens)

Science and technology have allowed us to grow exotic orchids at home, develop new hybrids, and learn about and protect wild plants. For example, genomic (DNA) sequencing technologies have allowed scientists to identify wild species and their symbiotic fungi, the knowledge which would help with the conservation efforts. Advancement in the imaging technologies also help us learn more about orchids by revealing previously unobserved details.

The 20th annual orchid exhibition is held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History through January 24 to April 26, 2015.

For those of us who won’t be able to visit the exhibit, we can enjoy a virtual 3-D tour of a rare orchid. Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection, together with Smithsonian’s 3D Digital Charter collection, has created a digital tour using CT (X-ray computed tomography) scans — a variation of an application used in the ancient Herculaneum scroll study —  of their prized Embreea orchid and its pollinator. “This outstanding tour will take you deep inside this amazing orchid and give intimate insight into its complex and fascinating relationship with its insect partner,” they say. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have any luck running the 3D viewer on my browser… I hope you’ll have a better luck and the bug will be fixed soon.)

Screenshot of the CT scans and 3D tours of Embreea orchid and its pollinator. From Smithsonian’s 3D Digital Charter collection.

Screenshot of the CT scans and 3D tours of Embreea orchid and its pollinator. From Smithsonian’s 3D Digital Charter collection.

 

Phalaenopsis hybrid white Photo credit: Bryan Ramsay, Smithsonian Gardens

Phalaenopsis hybrid white
Photo credit: Bryan Ramsay, Smithsonian Gardens

Lynn Kimlicka

I am a scientist-turned writer and editor, who loves to read and write (more than doing experiments). I have a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a specialization in structural biology. My interests range widely, from life sciences to pop culture and arts to music. I am bilingual in English and Japanese.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: