austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I'd like to be

So after finishing the Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Singapore Science Centre, I went to their nice little ``kinetic garden'', available for rent to interested parties. So, my tour.

The first thing I encountered: a water maze, giving children the chance to learn how to walk through streams of water. There's a similar ``playful fountain'' at the Bugis Village, but that's not educational. Next we encounter a large, cube-inspired dragon labelled ``3. Martin Gardner'', from which we learn the world is filled with bizarre images. From here we advance to the peep hole exhibit. It's educational peeping, letting us discover optical illusions.

Next teams of children learn by classic Archimedean principles how to make a loud, metallic racket. They were not accompanied by The Anvil Chorus. They also learn balancing in general; note the unwound optical illusion in the background. Also demonstrated is the important principle of ... lifting yourself. Ever discovering important scientific principles we come to the log roll ride.

The principle of similar triangles, with a reference item (a lamp on a coiled stand) and a mirror is used to measure your height without lining up against a ruler. It's not calibrated for grownups, I suppose; it overestimates my height.

I believe this is the contraption that brought Jimmy and Freddy the Magic Flute to H.R.Pufnstuf's Living Island. Its objective is unclear, but by working hard at some levers and dials you can make the little tin figures on bicycles jump. They can also make Atari 2600 superheros wiggle.

This next exhibit shows how filters work. From the caption stand: ``Notice that the objects you see through the blue disc appear blue ... Similarly, the objects seen through the green-coloured filter appear green while objects seen through the red-colored filter appear red.'' Any questions?

Despite the Science Centre's mission statement, which makes the task of being a museum sound positively onerous, there's room for fun and games. Obviously coming right to everyone's mind is bungee trampoline. At a cost of just one dollar for several minutes one can jump quite dramatically. It's only one person at a time, for safety's sake. And then there's the chance for a lovely movie in the tropical twilight. Once the title comes up, watch the people leave.

In other news a cargo ship with four thousand new Hyundai cars crashed into another ship. While both got out of the main shipping lane between Singapore and Batam, the car-carrying ship sank, and there's a new little oil spill growing.

So why, yesterday, was there a two-meter-long industrial freezer with a handful of ice cream cartons in the middle of the Harvey Norman store at Funan The IT Mall? Harvey Norman sells electronics -- TVs, DVDs, digital cameras -- and home appliances -- washing machines, toaster ovens, microwaves. So, I asked. It's a special promotion tied into the forthcoming Great Singapore Sale: spend S$100.00 or more in any one purchase and you get a free small box of ice cream. Though the sales clerk pointed out you could go down to the McDonald's in the Funan mall (as Funan is a computers-and-electronics mall, the McDonald's there is decorated in an Old West theme) and get an ice cream cone for 50 cents, no consumer electronics purchase necessary. It's tempting, but I didn't need a hundred dollars of electronics, or, really, a McDonald's ice cream cone either.

Trivia: The Titan II rocket used for the Gemini program had 27 relays, umbilicals, valves, and regulators, compared to 172 in the Titan I. Source: On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini, Barton C. Hacker and James M. Grimwood. NASA SP-4203.

Currently Reading: European History, 1648-1789, Robert M. Rayner.

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