What is Seriously Amazing?

The Smithsonian is all about questions and answers, and the Smithsonian Seriously Amazing campaign brings those questions to life.

Tell us about your Smithsonian experience in person or online through the Smithsonian Twitter page at https://twitter.com/smithsonian using #seriouslyamazing.

What is an SI—Q?

What is an SI—Q?

The Smithsonian asks and answers questions every day about science, art, history and culture.

Look for the SI—Q symbol and ask and answer some questions along with us!

About Smithsonian

The Smithsonian asks and answers questions about science, art, history and culture, exciting the learning in everyone, every day.

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SI—Q

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Join the Smithsonian Fan Forum ›

SI—Q

Did hobbits really exist?

Meet Homo floresiensis, nicknamed “hobbit” because of its short stature and large feet. This early human species lived on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Its body and brain were very small, probably due to the scarce resources available on the one island where it’s been found so far.

What does it mean to be human? ›

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Our world is a gauntlet of death for birds. Habitat loss, cats, chemicals & more: #SOTB14 http://t.co/RBTuEJFpPt http://t.co/oqsZhcp3V5

7 days ago

SI—Q

Which insect has multi-talented legs?

Katydids! Their front wings have special structures that can be rubbed together to make sounds. They hear these sounds with flat patches on their legs that act as ears.

Bugs aplenty! ›

SI—Q

When -- and why -- did Apple promise to keep you away from Big Brother?

Companies pay millions to broadcast innovative ads during the Super Bowl. In 1984, Apple promised in its Super Bowl XVIII spot that when its Macintosh was released, “you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’.” The “Classic” Macintosh PC introduced clickable icons (with the newly introduced “mouse”) to open programs instead of typing out program commands.

Kiss those floppy disks goodbye ›

SI—Q

Can your biggest fear shape your art?

It can! In this case, a fear of iguanas can be an inspiration to explore identity in pictures. Karen Miranda Rivadeneira is a Latina artist featured in the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition, Portraiture Now: Staging the Self. Karen uses photography to explore the intersection between memory and identity.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month ›

SI—Q

If Pablo Picasso was in charge of the guest list who would he invite?

With a list jotted down on a scrap of paper, Pablo Picasso listed the European artists he recommended for the 1913 Armory Show. With phonetic spelling, Picasso recommended Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Leger and Juan Gris, among others.

Picasso's short list ›

SI—Q

What jungle bird has all the right moves?

Few have witnessed the flamboyant courtship displays of Papua New Guinea's Flame Bowerbird. Hidden in the dense jungles, the bird's extraordinary mating ritual has captured the interest of wildlife experts across the world.

A sultry dance ›

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Here's how @3d_digi_si and @chandraxray worked together to allow you to hold a dying star in your hand: https://t.co/MheCllDVHR

7 days ago

SI—Q

Can a cup of coffee save a bird?

Yes. Massive pesticides used for growing coffee on plantations can immediately affect tropical forests and the birds that live there. Luckily, some coffee growers are using shade-grown coffee, which plays a key role in environmental conservation and for migratory birds.

Sustainable brew is for the birds ›

The ensemble worn by Marian Anderson for her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

A watershed moment ›

SI—Q

Do zombies really exist?

Well, kind of. Scientists at the National Museum of Natural History discovered a 48-million-year-old leaf with clear signs of one well-documented form of zombie-parasite Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, a fungus that infects ants and then manipulates their behavior - essentially turning them into zombies.

A fatal fungus ›

SI—Q

Would you eat a chocolate bar that did not melt?

This may sound too good to be true, but during World War II, The Hershey’s Chocolate Co. was commissioned by the U.S. Army to create a heat-resistant chocolate bar with strict regulations. These regulations included specific weight and taste – yes, taste. The Army stated that the bar could not be so tasty that soldiers would want to eat it, except in an emergency. These “Tropical Chocolate Bars” were incredibly successful, which surely made founder Milton Hershey very proud.

24 million bars produced every week in 1945 ›

SI—Q

Stop and smell the... chocolate?

You almost certainly know Milton Hershey as a famous chocolatier, but did you know he also created a rose garden in Hershey, Pennsylvania? The idea to construct the garden came after repeated conversations with J. Horace McFarland, an avid member of the American Rose Society. The original plan was to have the garden in Washington, D.C., yet the Hershey location is now 23 acres and continues to be a popular tourist destination.

SI—Q

Ahoy, matey! What arrr you having for supper?

If you were a pirate, not much. Being constantly at sea meant little food and a lot of mold, so pirates mostly survived on a diet of dried meats and, you guessed it, rum.

Talk like a pirate and eat like one, too ›

SI—Q

How is hip-hop like the microchip?

Both grew out of communities that were innovation hotbeds—the microchip from Silicon Valley and hip-hop from the Bronx. By building primitive song mixers, constructing speakers out of trash cans and hacking power from street lights, early MCs in the 1970s’ Bronx demonstrated problem solving, risk taking and creativity, inventing a new style of American music. The Smithsonian studies how inventive communities form and impact culture.

Innovation Hotspots ›

SI—Q

What dream vacation was not exactly “dreamy” once upon a time?

Going to Hawaii. Before the advent of safe and reliable jet travel, it took weeks to make the ocean journey there. And attempts by civilians to make the dangerous flight often resulted in tragedy.

How air travel changed Hawaii ›

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the companion facility to the Museum on the National Mall.

This photo is one of 100 that make up the “American Cool” exhibition at the Portrait Gallery.

American Cool ›

SI—Q

When can breathing help quench your thirst?

When wearing the Armbrust cup. This odd device, worn over the face, converts condensation from breath into drinking water. Renowned pilot Charles Lindbergh always took one with him on flights over the ocean in case of an emergency landing.

Aviation must-haves ›

The Smithsonian honors the musical legacy of Coltrane during Jazz Appreciation month.

American stories ›

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction.

Once there were billions ›

SI—Q

What's a sweet way to visualize our universe?

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory has illustrated the energy distribution of our universe by using a jar of jelly beans, mostly black. Dark energy and dark matter (black jelly beans) take up most of the Universe.

Delicious science ›

May 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Batman’s debut with DC Comics.

SI—Q

Where can you put your own stamp on history?

At The National Postal Museum, visitors can create their own stamp collection on topics that interest them most. Interactive stations also allow visitors to create their own stamp designs.

Connect with U.S Stamps ›

SI—Q

What do bats have in common with happy hour?

Tequila! Tequila is made from the agave plant. Certain species of bats feed on the nectar of agave flowers and in the process they pollinate the flower and help the plant to thrive.

A toast to pollinating bats ›

Lady slipper orchids are just some of the varieties in the exhibition “Orchids of Latin America.”

If the slipper fits, pollinate it. ›

This is the smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark – smaller than a person's hand!

Petite predator ›

SI—Q

What rocked John Lennon's world before the Beatles?

Stamp Collecting! As a young boy, Lennon traded and collected stamps for several years. Already a budding artist, he added personal sketches to his stamp album, which is now housed at Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.

History's coolest collector ›

This folk art guitar has a two chambers for stashing strings, picks or snacks

A primitive guitar ›

SI—Q

Who is the mother of these dragon-like mites?

All of them! Osperalycus tenerphagus are a newly discovered species of dragon-like mites that lay eggs that don’t need to be fertilized. They are all female – no male has ever been found.

Not your regular Seven Kingdoms dragons ›