Aeolian Landscape is an art exhibit in which a miniature wind-swept desert landscape is recreated by an electric fan and finely ground sand. The motion mimics the process of wind picking up and depositing small particles. Geologists use the term “aeolian” to refer to land formations that are caused by wind. Sand dunes and snow drifts are two common examples. The visitor can change the direction of the fan and notice how the shape of the miniature dunes influences the pattern of the wind, which in turn influences the shape of the dunes.
Air blowing over the surface of water inside a large plastic hemisphere mimics the action of the wind over the ocean by generating waves. The waves slowly change and build until the entire volume of water is circling as one wave. Visitors can adjust the speed and direction of the air blower and influence the building of the waves.
Tornado uses a large mist generator, fans and a care fully-shaped structure to produce a large tornado. Since the Exploratorium first produced this crowd-pleasing exhibit, it has been duplicated in many museums. Our fourth generation version is intentionally de-tuned so that random air currents can cause both the creation of a tornado and its temporary cessation. This latest Tornado is chaotic and unpredictable much of the time; it wanders off the source of the mist, slips out of the grasp of the shearing winds and presents a delightful and ever-changing image.
Sea of Clouds
A large pool of slowly undulating fog is evocative of the cloud tops of Jupiter and Venus as well as of fog forming in the valleys of Mars. Generated by an ultrasonic fog machine, the cool, dense water mist flows like dry ice fog. The top surface is alive with waves and complex convection currents. Side lighting accentuates the patterns. Viewers will be able to run their hands through the fog and alter the currents. When left undisturbed, the fog will slowly churn, constantly changing due to its own internal dynamics.
A vortex forming in a 12 inch diameter cylinder filled with fluid sweeps fine particles of sand into a swirling dust devil. Visitors turn a knob to activate the vortex and watch it travel across the landscape.
A shallow circular tray, covered with glass and filled with a pearlescent fluid, is heated from within its base. Instead of becoming more disorderly, as most things do when you heat them, the fluid organizes itself into an intricate pattern of lozenges not unlike the whorls of a fingerprint. Visitors may interrupt the pattern by spinning the disc, and observe the process as it reforms.
Most wave motion takes place at frequencies too high to follow easily with the eye. The spring wire transmits energy from end to the other. Because of the high moment of inertia of the spring wire, a disturbance takes several seconds to travel from one end of the array to the other. The transverse motion of the spring can clearly show wave reflection, standing waves, resonance, partial reflection, and impedance matching.
This whirling loop of chain responds to touch with eerily lifelike waves that seem to hover in midair. The motion of the chain itself causes the unusual effect: When waves travel in the direction opposite the direction of the moving chain, they seem to move very slowly, or even stand still.
Ten brass weights hang from strings of different lengths. Visitors activate the array of pendulums, which swing back and forth. The timing of each pendulum’s motion depends upon its length. Although the weights swing independently, they appear to move together, first in a line, then as a snake. After several periods, the motion becomes seemingly random, and then gradually organizes itself again as the snake pattern returns and the cycle repeats.
Guests are able to witness the most stressed areas of beams of bridges, human femurs, and even wrenches while tightening a bolt. The exhibit demonstrates how stress is distributed throughout different items that support weight and or/do work.
Guests can explore condensation and evaporation and the effects of the two stages in the water cycle taking place in certain sequences. Guests can control the temperature of the metal plate in the dewpoint chamber and analyze their results.
The Seasons Lab allows guest to explore all seasons from any point on the globe. Guests can examine the amount of light received by certain geographical location any point during the year. Guests can also evaluate the affect of location and the seasons on regional temperatures and consequentially ecosystems.
Alternate and direct currents of electricity are explained and differentiated between as guests explore the necessity of both. Visitors can determine when direct current sources such as batteries are more or less effective than electricity in homes and buildings through alternating currents. Guests use tools such as oscillinderscope, and speakers to visualize the differences in the transmission of the energy.
Named after the Earl of Orrey, the Orrey table in the Math and Science Discovery Center examines phenomena such as eclipses, the rotation and revolution of the Earth, and the changing of the seasons. Guests interact with the exhibit by rotating the table and observing the motion of the celestial bodies.
The series of three large mirrors, lights, and a disco ball create an undending image of the guest inside the human kaleidoscope. Visitors explore the science of mirrors and reflection.
Created by students from the Louisiana Tech University College of Engineering and Sciences, the Earthquake Simulator dubbed The Bulldog Shake Shack, simulates the effects of tectonic plate movement. Inside vocabulary related to the phenomena adorns the wall. Students can learn about the Richter scale and more.
A staple of any Math and Science Center, the Bernoulli Blower utilizes a column of air to suspend a balloon or ball in the air seemingly by magic. Guests can interact with the exhibit by removing and replacing the suspend object and adjusting the rate of air being released by the blower.
Somebody Turn on the Lights
Guests differentiate between incandescent and fluorescent light but utilizing mechanical energy as they use a crank generator. Guests observe the amount of energy necessary to light each bulb and can deduce which item is more energy efficient and would be financially beneficial in homes or offices.
By plucking a metal rod, guests can determine the ration of the rods by the speed and pattern of vibration. Each item makes a unique path indicating its variation in ratio.