Monday, April 5, 2010

The Science of Storms and a Really Big Boat . . .

This Saturday Tabitha and I stopped at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to see their new permanent exhibit, Science Storms. It was full to bursting and with good reason; there was certainly a lot to see and do;)

One of the first things you'll see is the perpetual avalanche made up of ever swirling and falling garnet dust and glass particles; it made me feel like I was looking at a sand storm on Mars. Then, you're hit with the 40-foot vortex, simulating a tornado, and a long tank full of water that creates a small tsunami every few minutes. These are just a few of the more than 50 mostly interactive experiments and displays in the exhibit. 

These are the three ripple tanks that can be controlled from the balcony above. It was fun to watch people step into the rippling light and try to figure out where it was coming from;)

The exhibit covered fire and lightning too, as well as sunlight and energy currents, all contributors to weather.

I had to get a picture of some of the very cool, steampunk-esque antique weather and electrical instruments.

 The 40-foot high vortex tornado.

The most amazing thing (in my opinion) in the exhibit was the 20-foot Tesla Coil suspended over our heads. Roughly every 15 minutes the Tesla Coil would go off, and believe me, wherever you were in the exhibit (or, indeed, in the museum) you stopped to look over. You have to respect electricity so powerful you can hear it.

Of course, we stopped by Main Street, but no ice cream that day; the line was out the door!

Then, it was on to the massive U-505, a real captured German U-boat from WWII. I tried to captured the scope of just how big this thing truly was, but you would have to be standing next to it to truly appreciate it. Captured in 1944, it is the only German submarine in US soil, and now stands as a memorial to those killed at sea during WWI and II.

It was also our first opportunity to take A's tour; he works as a guide on the U-505, and the tour inside the submarine with its timed light and sound cues was quite effective and pretty cool as well. The capture of the U-505 gave the Allies their first look at a lot of German technology and probably shortened the war by several months, saving countless lives. If you have the chance, I highly recommend getting tickets for the tour, but come early!

All in all, our trip was a lot of fun. I usually say that MSI is not my museum; I'm much more a Field Museum girl, with its pyramid and dinosaur bones. But, I enjoyed the excursion, and I'm looking forward to going back to catch the exhibits I might have missed.

What about you, dear readers? What's your favorite museum?

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