Tompkins County Public Library

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Ithaca, NY 14850

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Penetrating the 
Secrets of Nature
  Jumping Genes & Frankenfoods

Cornell Theory Center (CTC)
New Date:
January 22
, 2003
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Are future foods Frankenfoods?

The Cornell Theory Center (CTC) is developing an online 3D virtual science museum exhibit that features Jumping Genes, one kind of genetic mutation that is found in crop plants.

On December 11th, you will have a chance to visit the Jumping Genes Archipelago, a virtual world where avatars explore the very nature of these mutations through interactive 3D exhibits.

Chat with Barbara McClintock about her experience unraveling the mystery of this genetic phenomenon and have a hand at causing your own mutations by making genes jump.

Learn how changes in the natural environment can increase the mutation rate. Take a trivia challenge on what you have seen. And then chat with other avatars, sharing your ideas about how we can and/or should be using our knowledge to improve modern crops.

Since the days of Gregor Mendel, geneticists have studied mutations like Jumping Genes as a way to understand what genes are and how they work. In fact, Barbara McClintock, one of Cornell's most prestigious lady graduates, won the Nobel Prize in genetics for figuring out that genes do jump.

Today researchers are discovering that she barely uncovered the tip of the iceberg, one that they hope holds promise for improving our foods today and understanding the nature of genetic diversity.

Genetically modified crops have been labeled "Frankenfoods". What are your thoughts on this? Join us and let's talk.

About CTC

The Cornell Theory Center is a high-performance computing and interdisciplinary research center at Cornell University. We are driving the development of computing systems and tools for research and industry.

And we provide leading-edge resources and expertise to help scientists, artists, engineer, and designers working in almost every department on campus. For example, some use our parallel computing resources to explore molecules, while others delve into the mysteries of stock market dynamics. Our online outreach efforts are centered at

Development of Jumping Genes is funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation. This event is presented in conjunction with the exhibit, Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature, on display at Tompkins County Public Library. The exhibit was developed by the National Library of Medicine in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office and made possible by major grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Library of Medicine.

Frankenfoods Forum

Who: Teens of all ages. Teachers and tech coordinators. Click here to sign up!

What: You will need a PC that is logged into the Internet and running the Active World Browser, which you can downloaded from our Web site, curiosity, an open mind, and a commitment to appropriate behavior.

(This is a fun space, but we will know what everyone is doing and will work to keep you on task.) And please read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein!

When: The event is on October 23 from 4-6 PM.

Where: You can log in to our virtual space, Jumping Genes Archipelago, via the Tompkins County Library or a school computer with supervision of an adult.

Locations other than the library: please arrange for tech coordinators to install and test the software at least a week in advance - we will help, just contact us at:

How: Using online virtual world technology, you will be able to tour a unique information space developed as a prototype for one trajectory of the future of interactive learning.

All attendees will interact with Web and World content and simulations, and then discuss their ideas about mutations, the idea of humans controlling mutations for our own purposes, and the whole realm of Frankenfoods. Are we creating Nature?

The Jumping Genes Archipelago is an online game-like virtual world for science learning.

Barbara's Garden
Barbara's Garden

The DNA Tree of Life
The DNA Tree of Life

The Gene Machine
The Gene Machine


Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature was developed by the National Library of Medicine in collaboration with the American Library Association.

It has been made possible by major grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, D.C., and the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md. The traveling exhibition is based upon a major exhibition produced by the National Library of Medicine in 1997-1998.

American Library AssociationNational Endowment for the Humanities National Library of Medicine

Local program support has been generously provided by Cornell University, M&T Bank, and Borders Bookstore.

Cornell University Logo M & T Bank Logo Borders Bookstore Logo

We have also benefited from many local partnerships with community groups including the members of the Discovery Trail.

Frankenstein image from:

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Last Revised December 12, 2002