austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And hit me with technology

Skyler and I set out for the San Jose Tech Museum, and on the way discovered free parking, right next to a large park and odd-shaped purple building. The park was being fenced in, but the woman said we could go in to the Tech Museum, which we assumed was the odd-shaped purple building. It turned out the fences blocked all access to the building, and a guard told us it was closed because they were launching the city's fireworks display from there. It turned out that was the Children's Museum. The Tech Museum is -- according to their web site -- a ``mango and azure'' building back closer to where we parked, helpful if anyone knows exactly what colors mango and azure are.

Outside was a huge kinetic sculpture, very much like the Singapore Science Centre's, down to some of the design elements, though this one uses billiard balls rather than Singapore's racquet balls. While remarking on that similarity a child came up to it and said, ``It's like the one in Singapore!'' And an adult with him agreed, and we chatted a bit; he was moving his family to Singapore -- his wife's from there -- to attend university. I don't make these things happen, you know. They just do.

The museum is a veritable smorgasborg of Livejournal Entries, from the speaker that I thought asked, ``Have you ever thought about motor eaters?'' to an imagination flowchart to a display of Superhero Science. In that show a woman claiming to be a superhero and wearing a converted shower curtain has all of her powers debunked by the skeptical hostess who regularly slipped an extra schwa between the syllables in `magnet' and its derivative words, and demonstrated vague equivalents with such technology as a leaf blower. Ultimately Superhero decides that being an innovator is the true path to greatness, which would imply that a prop comic is superior to a Green Lantern. They're probably less dangerous, anyway.

Perhaps the high point was the Idea House, which presented huge piles of things to assemble. spaceroo is a Lego Elemental, and cannot pass things which might be assembled without assembling them. He went happily from assembling a tripod of oversized Tinker Toys to wrestling with a foam rubber version of the air conditioner system from Brazil to fiddling with Enik's pylon matrix tables to the challenge of building, out of foam rubber, tongue depressors, rubber bands, and twist-ties, a boat capable of holding a wax cat upright and reasonably dry going down a steep incline and splashing into the water. He came up with an impressive structure (pictures to follow) in almost no time. It worked.

One of the more captivating displays was a double helix made of cookbooks. These cookbooks go back a while, including at least four copies of Litton's Microwave Cooking On A Diet, not to mention other amusing titles from when we pretended microwaves were useful for actual cooking like JC Penny's Microwave Cookbook, Micro-Thermal Cooking by Thermidor, Quasar's Microwave Cookbook, and More Joys of Jello. They also had at least one Frugal Gourmet book, from back before he did something or other and vanished without a trace. We were interested enough in this that a docent came over to explain how the books were assembled into helixes, and kept in place, and how they were padded so as to be earthquake-proof. She was quite pleasant, and I only faintly got the impression the message was supposed to be ``stop brushing our books with your museum map before you break something.''

Speaking of breaking something, one of the exhibits is on earthquakes. Part of this is a little earthquake simulation, letting you experience a recreation of some of the name-brand earthquakes, which we took rather well. I don't know which one we rode, but we rode one of them. Then at a seismograph spaceroo and his fiancee tried making a nice big wave, and his camera fell out his pocket, hit the ground, and the battery case flipped open. He also lost a case screw. And at a computer simulation of earthquake damage I managed to set up a 20-storey building that withstood the worst quake spaceroo worked up. So nyah.

Trivia: - A mid-June 1972 NASA and Mathematica study of shuttle flights projected the seven orbiters of the fleet flying 86 missions in 1990. Source: Development of the Space Shuttle, 1972-1982, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: Shadows In the Sun, Chad Oliver.


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