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Pahavit's Universe

pahavit
Date: 12-16-2010 12:36 AM
Subject: Tech Museum of Innovation
Security: Public
Tags:field trip, moss, rat, san jose, tech museum
Tech Museum of Innovation


On Sunday D. and I went to the Tech Museum in San José, a cool dynamic learning center disguised as a museum, devoted to science and technology. We took some pics; mine first.


On our way to the museum, we pass by a couple of giant figures from the Nutcracker ballet, including a rat.





They even gave the rat gingivitis.  Nice touch.





Here's a giant soldier.





Once inside the museum, we begin in the Silicon Valley Innovation Gallery, which trumpets the innovations of Silicon Valley.  Such as the microchip and all that stuff, which is what makes it possible for me to have taken these photographs, to have written this and posted this, and for you to be reading this.  Wow.  Are you wowed?  I'm wowed.  Wow.

Anyway, a chart on a wall tells us about about yottahertz.  It sounds like a joke but it isn't.  A yottahertz is a lotta hertz -- one quadrillion, to be exact, 1024 Hz.  Can anyone really wrap their mind around one quadrillion of anything? 





Hands-on learning is a good thing -- up to a point.





"Microchips: The Heart of the Revolution."  So sayeth Intel, who sponsored this exhibit.  Here's a couple of parts of a silicon wafer-making machine.







We step outside to the observation gallery (i.e., balcony) to take a short break, and we observe a little city of moss on the ledge.







Its soft, irregular, organic forms are a startling contrast to the hard, highly-engineered technological objects inside the museum, and quite soothing.



We also catch a glimpse of the Christmas in the Park festivities taking place across the street in Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park.





Now refreshed, we return inside to behold the dramatic deep blue domed skylight above the museum's atrium.





The 40-year-old Intel 4004 microprocessor, and the 6-year-old (at the time of this writing) Intel Pentium 4.







In the Innovation Gallery, we investigate the "Program a Chip" display by trying to make a "smart" Mr. Potato Head respond to changes in his surroundings, such as making him recline his chair or talk when the lamp or TV or fan come on.



I like that wallpaper.  (Yes, that's a tiny pic of dogs playing poker on the wall.  Nice touch.)



On our way to the Tech Awards Gallery, we pass a series of themed globes.

Solar exposure globe:





Life expectancy globe.





Literacy globe.





World energy consumption globe.





Access to drinking water globe.





Mobile teledensity globe.







Two cool things: Drinking the Sky (condensing fog onto nets in areas with lots of fog but very little rainfall to collect drinking water) and Súper Bomba "Moneymaker" (a human-powered mechanical device allowing subsistence sub-Saharan farmers to become commercial farmers) in the exhibit about technology benefitting humanity (yes, all the signage in the exhibits is bilingual).







A sculpture overhead made from plastic water bottles.  It probably represents the number of water bottles discarded by Americans every nanosecond.





In the Genetics exhibit of the Life Tech Gallery, we learn about DNA.  Did you know genes are like recipes?  Well, they are.  The sign says so.  The display even carries the conceit further with a double helix sculpture composed of 300 cookbooks.  Because genes are like recipes. 







This dude's grim demeanor makes gene therapy seem like something you really don't want to around with. 





A biovat, used for growing medicines from genetically engineered bacteria.





This is an image from an infrared thermocamera in the Transparent Body exhibit in the Life Tech Gallery. It shows some kid who ran up next to us at the last second, me and D..  You can see the blue disk of my camera lens in front of my face, and how cool my hands are compared to D.'s.  (I feel like showing this to my doctor and saying, "See how bad my peripheral circulation is?")





In the Life Tech Gallery's Beyond Our Limits exhibit, we see examples of exotic racing HPVs suspended from the ceiling.  HPVs are Human Powered Vehicles (such as bicycles but also much, much more), which use the mechanical power of the human body for land, air, or water travel. They utilize metal alloys and composites from the aerospace industry to make them strong and light and advanced engineering techniques to achieve the most efficient use of the energy provided by the human powering them.









Hockey pucks shoot toward goalies at up to 100 mph.  From head to toe, they are shielded by high-tech fabrics such as Kevlar, lightweight padding for adequate protection plus full range of motion, and steel-hard plastics.  Go Sharks!





Looking like something out of the film Metropolis, this tower in the Green By Design gallery is progressively lit higher and higher by more and more people focusing little reflectors onto a solar cell.







In the Invention At Play exhibit, we see comments from museum attendees about if and how childhood play changes with changes in technology.



I wonder if 10-year-old Susan drinks coffee while playing with her bugs? 



Is this a scene from the Officer's Club or something?  This looks just an eensy-weensy bit shady, if you ask me. 





My body is hands-off to you!  Hmph.





In the Exploration Gallery, the Deep Frontier exhibit takes us under the sea.  A diver and some fish float above our heads.









This slightly creepy-looking thing is a diving hard suit, which enables divers to move freely thousands of feet down in the ocean within a completely enclosed, pressurized environment. Hard suit divers don't feel the pressure change around them, so they can go much deeper than divers wearing scuba gear. They don't have to worry about getting the bends when they come up, either. Eighteen rotary joints make it almost as flexible as a wetsuit.





"I have come . . . for your firstborn . . ."





Explorer Sylvia Earle said, "There are more footprints on the Moon than on the sea floor."   No wonder, it's all spiky.





In the Exploration Gallery's Destination: Space exhibit, we see a spaceguy hanging from the ceiling.





It's important to dress for success, regardless of your line of work.



When your line of work takes you to outer space, success means remaining alive.



Oh brother.  If you have to ask why you need a space suit, you do not belong in space!



(I can just hear some annoying little space kid whining, "But Mom!  Joey and Billy's moms let them go into space all the time without suits on, why can't I?")



Here's a Martian-like rover in a Martian-like crater, under Martian-like light.





Before you snicker, remember I'm holding a 2-lb. camera with a 2-lb lens.



Due to its lesser gravity, I could jump three times higher on Mars than I can on Earth.  Whee.



Cue Star Trek music.





We exit the Exploration Gallery under a banner bearing a quote from T.S. Eliot, NASA's unofficial sloganeer.





Before we leave, we go around a corner to behold the museum's control center and get a peek behind the scenes at a big part of what makes all the exhibits function.










❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧

And here are D.'s pics.


A stairwell inside the museum





A mural on a doorway has some kind of undersea theme.





The Infinite Creativity exhibit showcases digital tools that allow all people to create and collaborate artistically. On the exhibit's four touch-screen canvases, museum-goers create colorful lines, swirls, and shapes by dragging their fingers over the screen. A large screen then broadcasts each visitor's artwork on a constantly-evolving collage.







In the Exploration Gallery, we see a sextant and other navigational tools.









Part of the silicon wafer-making machine.





The little moss garden on the balcony.





A biovat, where medicines are grown using genetically engineered bacteria.





High-tech lights of some sort.  I think.  (I wasn't paying too much attention in this part of the museum.)  





This is an ancient Chinese earthquake detector.  A tremor would jostle it and knock a ball out of the mouth of one of the dragons, indicating the direction of the earthquake.





Creepy diving hard suit.





Not exactly highbrow stuff in the museum's gift shop.



And of course it is situated right at kids'-eye level. 


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