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Exhibit runs to Sept. 15

Frankfurt: Museum exhibit addresses hot topic of climate change

By KEVIN DOUGHERTY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 9, 2013

Whether you call it climate change, global warming or scientific nonsense, the issue has been the subject of much discussion, particularly in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which last year devastated parts of the U.S. East Coast.

Through mid-September, the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, is presenting the exhibit “Planet 3.0.” The interactive show reviews how the Earth has evolved since its inception 4.5 billion years ago and, based on current global conditions, where things appear to be headed.

The museum is best known for its display of dinosaur skeletons, housed in the main building. The “Planet 3.0” exhibit is located in a rear annex.

The Frankfurt facility is part of the Senckenberg Association for Natural Science, which includes two other museums in Germany (in Dresden and Görlitz) and six research foundations. Its current catch phrase is our “world of biodiversity.”

The primordial Earth was anything but diverse, based on the “Planet 3.0” exhibit, which opened in March.

In those early, early days — in which a day lasted slightly more than six hours due to a rapidly spinning world — our orb was red-hot. Temperatures were estimated to be 2,000 degrees Celsius (3,632 degrees Fahrenheit). The lifeless Earth didn’t significantly cool off until conditions produced the mother of all rainstorms, said to have lasted 40,000 years, according to the exhibit.

As visitors progress from one epoch to the next, many of the sections feature a rotating replica of Earth envisioned as it was at that particular time. One of the more interesting periods occurred 635 million years ago when, according to scientists, the Earth was nearly encapsulated in ice, except for a ribbon of water at the equator.

“For us, it’s like a time machine,” Alexandra Donecker, of the museum’s marketing department, said of the exhibit. Visitors “travel from the beginning of the Earth to the future.”

Examples of Earth’s past on display range from billion-year-old rocks and sediments to the fossilized remains and replicas of some of the earliest creatures from the Vendian, Precambrian and Cambrian periods, roughly 500 million years ago.

Each station includes an audio presentation about two minutes long. Portable audio tours are available in English.

The last quarter of the exhibit is largely set in a pseudo-science lab dedicated to the future as well as the past.

While some of the stations early in the exhibit make passing reference to today’s carbon emissions, which scientists maintain is the cause of climate change, the point is really driven home toward the end of the exhibit. Audio segments speak of the “human impact on system Earth,” which today is host to about 7 billion people.

Charts and other graphics illustrate future conditions and trends, should the current situation remain unchecked. Higher temperatures, rising sea levels and super storms are envisioned. “Climate change is no longer a prediction,” a voice on an audio segment contends. “The future has already begun.”

dougherty.kevin@stripes.com

DIRECTIONS

The Senckenberg Natural History Museum is at Senckenberg Anlage 25 in Frankfurt, Germany. The annex, where the “Planet 3.0” exhibit is located, is behind the main museum. As you face the front of the museum, the walkway to the annex is to the right. Just follow the footsteps planted on the walkway.

Get to the museum by exiting autobahn 5, 648 or 66. Follow the signs toward Messe and Universität. The museum is next to the university.

There is no parking around the museum on weekdays and limited parking opportunities on weekends. There is a parking garage at the Marriott hotel and one on Adalbertstrasse, both about two blocks from the museum.

TIMES

The “Planet 3.0” exhibit runs until Sept. 15, 2013. The museum and annex are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until 8 p.m. Wednesdays and until 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

COSTS

Admission to “Planet 3.0” costs 8 euros for adults and 4 euros for ages 6-15. Family tickets are available for 20 euros. That includes two adults and up to three children.

Tickets for entry to both the exhibit and the museum are available. Adults pay 14 euros, children 6 euros and family passes go for 30 euros.

FOOD

The main museum has a small bistro. The menu features a limited but broad offering, from a bowl of tomato soup for 4.50 euros to a Wienerschnitzel dinner for 19.50 euros. In keeping with the dinosaur theme, a Dino burger with fries costs 8.50 euros. A cappuccino is 3.60 euros.

INFORMATION

Phone: (+49) (0) 69-75420; website: www.senckenberg.de/root/index.php?page_id=5256.

One of the recurring themes of the Senckenberg Museum's exhibit is the state of the Earth through time, starting about 4.5 billion years ago, when it was formed. Here, in the foreground, is a depiction of the planet 635 million years ago when the Earth was nearly encapsulated in ice, except for a band of war at the equator.
KEVIN DOUGHERTY/STARS AND STRIPES

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