Celebrating Einstein and his science

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Celebrating Einstein and his science

For many, physics appears too abstract and obscure, although what most people fail to notice is that physics is embedded in every part of our life.
The 2005 Einstein Fair at the Seoul National Science Museum tries to explain the great physicist’s theories as simply as possible through charts, drawings and simulations in the hope that even children can understand them.
The exhibition is timed to coincide with the Unesco-designated World Year of Physics and the centennial celebration of Albert Einstein's “miraculous year,” when he developed the special theory of relativity, Brownian motion and the quantum theory of light.
In a depiction of his life, the exhibit shows that young Einstein was a curious boy and even tried to prove Pythagoras’ theorem with wooden blocks.
In explaining the principle of equivalence, an “elevator” is installed in which visitors can experience freefall, seeing their weight go to zero as the mechanism drops. Visitors can also ride on a rotating disk and watch the direction of a ball warped by inertia created by the rotation.
Most people have heard of the theory of relativity, though it is little understood. The exhibition shows clips from films in part based on the theory, including “Event Horizon,” about a lost spaceship entering the gravity field threshold of a black hole, and “Back To the Future,” a movie about time travel. There is a mock-up of a worm hole through which time travel is possible in theory.
To help understand the theory and time travel, it features a simulation ride in which visitors travel into space at the “speed of light” and return to earth, to realize that time passes more slowly during time travel.
The exhibition shows common applications of the special theory of relativity, including nuclear energy generation.
It displays the humanitarian side of the scientist and the role he played in modern history as well. Einstein supported civil rights and was a pacifist, and he was blacklisted by the FBI. Einstein feared that Nazi Germany would develop a nuclear weapon, and urged President Franklin Roosevelt in a letter to initiate such a program. After World War II, he lobbied for nuclear disarmament.
People wondered how Einstein's brain was structured and how it worked, so much so that one person tried to examine his brain, without permission. Dr. Thomas Stoltz Harvey, who did an autopsy on Einstein, took his brain and sliced it into 240 pieces. Some of the pieces, kept in Japan by Dr. Genji Sukimoto, an Einstein specialist, will be on display in August. Dr. Sukimoto plans to give a lecture on Einstein.
A guided tour starts every 20 minutes and might provide limited help. Unfortunately, there are no English titles and explanations, but exhibition producer Kim Youn-sung said she could offer English translations.

By Limb Jae-un

The Seoul National Science Museum is located near Changgyeong Palace and can be reached from exit 4 of Hyehwa station on line No. 4. The exhibition, which runs until February 2006, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ticket prices are 6,000 won ($5.70) to 10,000 won. For additional information, call (02) 3676-5566.
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