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.

Our experts share their ideas and our treasures through our museums, research centers and libraries; on our websites, magazines and media channels; and with partners across America and around the globe. We learn in all different ways, with all different kinds of people.

For more about how you can learn with Smithsonian, visit www.si.edu.

The Smithsonian relies on the generosity of people like you. Please support the Smithsonian today and help us bring alive our nation’s history, culture, art and science for people around the world.

SI—Q

Want more of a say in what happens at the Smithsonian?

We are looking for a few good Smithsonian fans to join our Smithsonian Fan Forum (SFF), an online group of our friends and visitors who will give us feedback on an array of Smithsonian initiatives. If you would like to provide occasional feedback to the Smithsonian and help us plan for the future, please click below to sign up.

Join the Smithsonian Fan Forum ›

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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

1 month ago

SI—Q

When can you hide behind a story?

When you are standing next to a Japanese folding screen. This delicate Japanese art form often depicts a story in progress. This screen shows cherry blossoms in early spring. A rope strung around the trees holds up large, ornate brocades. The cloth acts as curtains to block off the area for a blossom-viewing party.

Ancient tales of beauty ›

SI—Q

How can you help make history with the Smithsonian?

Happy American Archives Month! The Smithsonian Institution Archives staff show us how the Smithsonian has been crowd sourcing for 165 years.

Crowdsourcing the weather and the stars ›

SI—Q

What color is chocolate?

Natural chocolate is actually a reddish color. Chocolate didn't turn brown until chemists got their hands on it.

How did this happen? ›

SI—Q

Born to a poet, how did Ada Lovelace turn to a career in tech?

Surprisingly, Lovelace never met her poet father due to a parental squabble. In fact, her overprotective mother sheltered her from the arts and nudged her to pursue math and science. Lovelace is best known for translating and adding to notes about Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, including a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers; this is widely consider to be the script for the first computer program.

See more women in science from the Smithsonian ›

SI—Q

Were baseball players always this hairy?

At the turn of the 20th century, the majority of baseball players sported mustaches. But by the 1930s, fuzzy upper lips were frowned upon in the major leagues. The idea was to make the game more appealing to families, by keeping the boys clean-shaven and well groomed.

Baseball's best facial hair ›

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? ›

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 ›

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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

1 month ago

SI—Q

How can you hold a dying star in your hand?

You can 3D print a model of a supernova made from Smithsonian data. It is one of 23 collection items that have been 3D scanned and data made available for download by the Smithsonian 3D Digitization team.

Print a 3D model of your own ›

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 ›

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

A watershed moment ›

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

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 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 ›

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 ›

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

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 ›

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

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 ›

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

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 ›

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

Can cats save your soul?

Yes. In ancient Egypt, amulets made of stone often represented sacred animals, including cats. Amulets were believed to give their owners magical protection from evil forces.

A powerful possession ›

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

A primitive guitar ›

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 ›

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 ›