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Outer space isn’t empty. It is full of matter—dust, planets, stars, and debris. San Bernardino County Museum Curator of Paleontology Eric Scott will lead a journey through deep time with a special presentation, “Fire and Ice,” on Sunday, April 21 at 2:00 p.m. The lecture is included with paid museum admission.

Our own solar system contains not only a central star and several planets, but also vast numbers of other objects. Our skies are constantly bombarded by an invisible rain of microscopic space matter; we see meteors streaking through the heavens; and occasionally are treated to amazing comets shining brightly in the night. Throughout the vastness of geologic time, the evolution and diversification of life on Earth has been episodically interrupted by the arrival of some of these extraterrestrial objects—particularly asteroids and comets—on our planet’s surface. Occasionally, these objects are of sufficient size to have catastrophic results. The best known of these events, 65 million years ago, is thought to have caused the mass extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Other mass extinctions in Earth’s past have also been blamed on extraterrestrial impacts, including recent studies suggesting that Ice Age extinctions around 11,000 years ago may have had a celestial cause, but these scenarios are less than conclusive.

Scott will look at the evidence for these ancient impacts and their effects on life on Earth. It’s a fascinating examination of what happens at the intersection where outer space meets the fossil record.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 5pm. General admission is $8 (adult), $6 (military or senior), $5 (student), and $4 (child aged 5 to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit http://www.co.san-bernardino.ca.us/museum/. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669 ext. 229 or (TDD) 909-792-1462.

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