Science, plus tornadoes, suck in the visitors

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Science, plus tornadoes, suck in the visitors


Try to imagine creating a tornado out of mist, clearly hearing a person murmering 10 meters (32 feet) away, making a donut-shaped cloud and leaving your shadow on a wall seconds after you’ve gone. Not possible? People do it all the time at the Exploratorium exhibition at the Seoul National Science Museum.
The special science exhibition, located in northern Seoul, has 60 pieces of equipment that can replicate natural or scientific phenomenon by demonstrating principles of optics, geology, acoustics, optical illusions and gravity. Whatever their age or depth of scientific knowledge, visitors enjoy playing with the equipment and experiencing natural or scientific events.
The Exploratorium is located at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. This is the second time the exhibited has come to Korea (the first was in 2004), but this time it’s not being run by the Americans, but by a company called Rootone Entertainment, which bought the 60 most popular items from Exploratorium and is running the exhibition independently.

One of the most interesting pieces is “Tornado.” It uses a mist generator, fans and four pillars to produce what looks like a real tornado. Random air currents from the four pillars can create a tornado that wanders off from its source, the mist.
Another piece that’s popular for visitors is “Listening Vessels.” By sitting in front of two large paraboloid vessels erected, people can clearly hear a person speaking quietly even from 10 meters apart. The curved surface reflects the sound waves and focuses them on where an opposite person is sitting.
“Bicycle Wheel Gyro” uses centrifugal force to spin a person holding the gyro wheel. A visitor sits on a rotating chair and grasps handles attached to the center hub of a rapidly spinning wheel. As the visitor tips the wheel to one side, the chair begins to rotate in whatever direction the wheel is spinning.
“Shadow Box” uses large phosphorescent screens that store light from a strobe flash, temporarily freezing the visitor’s shadow.
In the “Distorted Room,” visitors peer through a hole into a full-sized room and see distorted images of objects inside. It’s really an optical illusion ― the wall across from the hole is skewed from the wall with the hole. People viewed in the room get taller and larger the further they walk into the room.
In “Liquid Mirror” visitors look into a pool of water but can see nothing above it, because the water surface acts like a mirror, reflecting the light above.
The exhibition continues until Aug. 31. No English information is provided, but visitors can ask for a pictorial record at the reception.

by Limb Jae-eun

Seoul National Science Museum opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Tickets cost 7,000 won ($7) to 10,000 won. The museum is located near Changgyeong Palace, 500 meters northwest of Hyehwa station, line No 4, exit 4. For more information, visit or call (02) 3676-5566.
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