Forces of Flight

Posted on September 30th, 2015

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By: MiaSci



As told by Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego, curator of astronomy and exhibition developer, at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science:

I write this as I wait to board a Boeing 747 at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This majestic, four-engine, wide-body aircraft will take me and about 400 other passengers to Hawaii within a nine-hour flight. Flight is something we take for granted today but was only a dream a century ago when the Wright brothers were arguably the first to fly in a powered, controlled aircraft. Historically, many consider the dawn of aviation to be Orville Wright’s first flight aboard the Wright Flyer I on December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, NC.

I often wonder what the first humans thought while looking up at a flock of birds flying free in the sky. For centuries, humans tried to fly like birds using wings made of lightweight materials. It was not until circa 1505 that Leonardo da Vinci published his “Codex on the Flight of Birds,” the first study of flight. Society as a whole later realized that if we want to reach the sky, we were going to do it on our own terms and not like a bird at all. Over time, humans have tried many different ways to fly.

In 1783, brothers Joseph and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier used their understanding of gas dynamics and the smoke of a fire to blow hot air into a silk bag creating the first hot air balloon. Since hot air is less dense than cool air, it rises. During the 19th century, once aerodynamics were better understood, English engineer George Cayley designed multiple versions of gliders that were controlled using the movements of the body. German engineer Otto Lilienthal was the first person to design a glider that could fly a person long distances. Lilienthal later died from injuries sustained during a glider crash.

Otto Lilienthal on Fliegeberg by Ottomar Anschutz, 1884

Otto Lilienthal on Fliegeberg by Ottomar Anschutz in 1884

Since Orville Wright’s first human powered flight we have been working hard to evolve the science of flight. We have endured, making flight faster, quieter, and greener.

The history of flight is complex and fascinating, but one question lingers, how do airplanes actually fly? In order to understand how, we need to first realize that like all liquids and gases, air is a fluid and that flight happens as a consequence of the interplay within four aerodynamic forces: thrust, drag, weight and lift.

Thrust is an aerodynamic force, caused by the engines that push or pull an airplane forward. The opposite aerodynamic force, drag, is the friction that resists an object’s forward motion through a fluid. One may easily experiment with drag by sticking his or her hand out of a moving car.

The most familiar force, weight, is the product of both gravity and mass and is a downward aerodynamic force. Since it depends on gravity, the weight of any object is, for example, larger on the Earth than on the Moon, where gravity is smaller. Weight’s opposing aerodynamic force is lift.

Like drag, lift exists only in the presence of a moving fluid or a moving object. It does not matter if the object is moving through the fluid or the fluid is moving around the object. What matters is the difference in speed between the two. The wing of an airplane splits the airflow in two directions: above and below. The airfoil shape and tilt of the wing causes the air moving over it to travel faster, as it does so pressure drops. The slower moving air under the wing exercises more pressure on it and the outcome is an upward push. In 1738 Daniel Bernoulli published his findings, which proved that an increase in the speed of a fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure. This is known as Bernoulli’s Principle.

One of the challenges of a science museum is to facilitate the understanding of complex scientific ideas in a resonating way. To learn about lift, visitors of the new “Feathers to the Stars” exhibition gallery at Frost Science will wear an airfoil sleeve and place their arm in a horizontal wind tunnel. They will feel the way a wing feels, and understand, first hand, the interplay of the four basic aerodynamic forces. Sleeves with different shapes will allow for an interactive and scientific approach to the exhibit.

Other exhibits in the gallery will look at other essential scientific ideas about the past, present and future of flight. “Feathers to the Stars” will take visitors on an inspiring journey from the evolution of animal flight, through the development of human flight and to the future of space exploration. It will open next summer as part of the new Frost Science in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. Onwards!

ONSITE Volume 11

Posted on September 9th, 2015

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By: MiaSci

As part of our ongoing effort to provide regular updates on the progress of our new museum, the ONSITE video series is a resource for us to connect directly with you. This month, Chief Operating Officer Frank Steslow takes you inside the Living Core Aquarium and gives you a preview of the science that visitors will encounter at Frost Science as our exhibit development teams work to create educational and engaging experiences.

The future begins here. Stay tuned for the next ONSITE!

RFP: Public Relations Agency of Record

Posted on September 1st, 2015

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By: MiaSci

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is seeking to identify and select a public relations agency to represent the new $300 million Frost Science currently in construction, to be located in Museum Park in Downtown Miami, Fl. This new highly sustainable facility will include a planetarium, an aquarium, both indoor and outdoor flexible space for science exhibits, and educational facilities.The museum is seeking an established agency who possesses local, national and international media relations; experience in crisis management, brand launches, and celebrity wrangling. The selected agency will be required to work with the museum’s internal communications team.

To obtain a copy of the RFQ, contact Paola Villanueva at Please provide the name of your company, location, main point of contact, and contact information with your request for the RFQ.

All qualifications packages should be emailed no later than 5:00 pm, EST, September 21, 2015.

RFP: Frost Science Innovation Labs

Posted on August 31st, 2015

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By: MiaSci

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is seeking to identify and select a partner to provide turnkey services for the design and development of the Innovation Labs, including permanent exhibition components, a Flexible Exhibit Furniture System, and interactive digital media components. The Innovation Labs represent one of four principal buildings that comprise the new $300 million Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, to be located in Museum Park in Miami, Florida. This new highly sustainable facility will include a planetarium, aquarium, both indoor and outdoor flexible space for science exhibits as well as educational facilities.

The museum is seeking a design firm, or consortium of firms, who individually or collectively possess the experience, skill, and knowledge to design the physical and digital experience of the exhibition. The museum intends to contract with a single entity, and encourages interested parties to assemble teams as needed. The selected design firm will be required to work with the museum project team and the museum’s appointed accessibility and exhibition evaluation consultant.

To obtain a copy of the RFP, contact Alexandra Kuechenberg at

Please provide the name of your company, location, main point of contact and contact information with your request for the RFP.

RFP requests will be accepted until Sept 23, 2015.

All responses are due to by 2:00 pm EST on October 2nd, 2015.

Frost Science Reaches Key Fundraising and Construction Milestones

Posted on August 20th, 2015

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By: MiaSci


Campaign Announces Two New Gifts and Surpasses $100 Million in Fundraising

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science has reached key milestones in both construction and fundraising as the new, state-of-the-art museum makes progress towards its opening in summer 2016. To date, the museum’s capital campaign has raised $103 million through the support of generous private and public charitable groups and donors. This figure puts Frost Science in its final stretch of fundraising towards its $300 million total project cost, with $165 million granted by the Miami-Dade County’s Building Better Communities Bond Program in 2004.

Recent major donor gifts include $2 million from The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to name a gallery inside Frost Science’s Exploration Center that will house the River of Grass exhibit, an indoor-outdoor discovery space and digital environment where young children and their caregivers can explore the Everglades in a way that is adapted to their interests and needs. The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust supports the advancement of education at all levels. The Trust seeks out institutions, programs and activities that hold exceptional promise to become models or guides for more general and lasting value to American society. Additionally, Frost Science Trustee Dr. David Frankel and his wife Linda recently donated $1 million towards the campaign, further adding to fundraising momentum.

“We have exceeded $100 million in private and foundation fundraising – a huge milestone,” says Joseph L. Falk, Chair of the Campaign for Frost Science. “We are very grateful for all of the donations we have received, including the recent donations from The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and Dr. David and Linda Frankel, and are well on our way to achieve our goal of $300 million for our public-private partnership.”

In addition to the fundraising milestones, construction is also progressing rapidly at the museum. The topping off of the museum’s Living Core Aquarium, home to the 500,000-gallon, three-story Gulf Stream Aquarium, took place in late July 2015. The Living Core Aquarium will house South Florida’s iconic terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems: the Everglades, Mangroves, the Florida Reef and the Gulf Stream, and feature engaging experiences with working scientists.

Over the past six months, Frost Science has achieved several substantial construction milestones, including the steel columns that support the Living Core Aquarium roof being set in June 2015. Also, the installation of 16,984 blocks of GMU (“blue” tiles) on the exterior of the building began that month. These tiles are in three different shades of blue, giving a dappled effect. The museum also completed the installation of 70 pumps and filtration systems for the life support system for all the numerous aquariums. The pumps will be able to move 15,800 gallons per minute using high efficiency motors and variable speed technology for energy savings. Construction crews have also installed 29 sand filters to remove particulate contaminants from the water and 16 protein skimmers to remove organic compounds such as food and waste particles from the water. It’s a complex “behind the scenes” design, engineering and construction feat that will not be noticed by most visitors.


Gillian Thomas, president and CEO of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science said, “With each and every construction milestone we achieve at the new museum, it’s truly exciting to witness history, science and technology in the making. The museum and its science exhibits will inspire many generations to come, encouraging them to appreciate the immense impact that science and technology have on every aspect of our world.”


Frost Planetarium at the Inaugural Fiske Fulldome Film Festival

Posted on August 19th, 2015

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By: MiaSci


As told by Dr. Jorge Perez-GallegoCurator of Astronomy and Exhibition Developer at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science:

The first Fiske Fulldome Film Festival in Boulder, CO

The first Fiske Fulldome Film Festival in Boulder, CO

The first time I went to a planetarium was back in the 80’s in Barcelona. We lived away from the city and the trek was not always easy. Back then, at a very young age, astronomy had already piqued my interest, mostly due to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I do not remember when I went back for a second visit, it was probably at a much later date. Alas, this past week I have spent three days watching over thirty planetarium shows, including pre-rendered shows about astronomy, space exploration, life science and Earth science, as well as fully immersive theater, music and VJing performances.

Ahead of the Frost Science opening in summer 2016, I attended the first Fiske Fulldome Film Festival at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, CO, one of a very few 8K planetariums in the US, on behalf of the Frost Planetarium. With the aim of bringing together planetariums, creators, producers and distributors, the outstanding team at Fiske presented some of the most dynamic, engaging and emotionally inspiring films for the full dome experience.

Megastar Star Projector at the Fiske Planetarium

Megastar Star Projector at the Fiske Planetarium

The future, 250-seat stadium-like Frost Planetarium will feature an 8K high-resolution projection system, surround sound and state-of-the-art software for live presentations. Visitors will be able to travel to distant galaxies, tour our planet from space, dive deep into the Gulf Stream, explore the inside of the human brain or discover the new world of nanotechnology. Planetariums are only as good as their content.

Over 100 million people visit planetariums every year and they are as interested in astronomy and space exploration as they have ever been. With a commitment to scientific integrity, we want to bring great pre-rendered content, not only about astronomy and space exploration, but also about the other main themes of Frost Science, such as Earth science and health science, to the Frost Planetarium. Combined with our long record of live astronomy presentations, we are set to turn Frost Planetarium into an invaluable and entertaining educational asset for South Florida and its visitors.

But we do not want to stop there. In a community like Miami, on the cutting edge of the creative movement, we are excited to investigate new ways in which planetariums can be activated to appeal to a larger population of young professionals looking for quality entertainment.

Festival winners included “We Are Stars,” a whimsical tale about the life and death of stars which at one point ingeniously uses an original Goldberg machine to explain the process of fusion in the Sun (i.e., the process by which hydrogen turns into helium); “Bella Gaia,” a beautiful journey that shows the relationship between human civilization and our ecosystem through time and space, and whose soundtrack was played live by Kenji Williams, its creator, during the festival; “Space School,” the untold story of how astronauts train underwater to live, work and carry out repairs in space, featuring Florida International University’s Medina Aquarius Program; and “Samskara,” an immersive full dome sensory experience from the mind of multimedia artist Android Jones. This is just to list a few, as all entries proved planetarium content is certainly on the raise.

It is undoubtedly a good time for Frost Planetarium to be born. Onwards!

J-Walt performing Spontaneous Fantasia live at the Fiske Planetarium

J-Walt performing Spontaneous Fantasia live at the Fiske Planetarium