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October 21, 2014 AT 3:00 am

Peek Inside The Fossil-Filled Bowels Of The American Natural History Museum #ArtTuesday

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Peek Inside The Fossil-Filled Bowels Of The American Natural History Museum:

…Although AMNH’s cryogenics facility is only about the size of a largish dorm room–heck, it even looks with one, except with cryotanks instead of bunks–it contains more than 80,000 different specimens. “In this room, you’ll find the greatest volume of biodiversity on the planet,” the facility director George Amato told us. But although the room seems small to hold so many specimens, Amato says AMNH has lots of room for growth: resembling large aluminum tubs, the eight cryogenic chambers in this small room alone are enough to hold as many as 1 million specimens.

According to Amato, the museum’s cryogenics facility has been designed to safeguard against the “tragedy of lost biodiversity” that has plagued researchers from the moment they started sticking their slides in the fridge. Many researchers depend upon frozen samples to do their work, but the problem with relying on any electrical freezer is that it will eventually fail, and your samples will end up as a pile of goo melting out from underneath the refrigerator door. But AMNH’s cryogenic facility contains multiple fail-safes, including private electrical generators and a tank filled with 3,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen on the premises. The AMNH believes it will be able to dependably archive frozen samples for the future to come. (Fun fact: Amato says he was once asked by the Secret Service what would happen if that 3,000 gallon tank of liquid nitrogen was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade. President Obama came to visit the next day.)….

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