I will do Science to it!

July 13, 2009

Hrm... so... you want some money?

Hrm... so... you want some money?

You think I’d’ve learned by now: never assume your internet access will last when travelling. Last night the hostel’s internet failed (not assigning IP addresses) and so I thought that the bus has wifi because it’s so cool, and sure enough I get on the bus and it fails (bus uplink not working). Lucky for me I had a vague idea of where hostel #1 was, around the corner from the hell hostel I stayed in previously. Now I’m here and on the internet again, but it only seems to be stable if I’m constantly pinging an external site.

Essentially yesterday was a long arvo at a science museum. Yes, I know I said that I was into credit now and only free things count, but I claim the $30 expenditure was on science, which feels like home to me, so therefore counts as ‘accommodation’! Yes, that’ll do.

Boats in the evening

Boats in the evening

So a nice sunny walk along the river was in order with a shirt concealing my sunburned shoulders, watching people sun themselves and boat about and a windsurfer looking frustrated in the still conditions. The walk was so picturesque that I had to repeat it in the evening on the way back, trying not to get hit by the joggers and bikers that claim that path for themselves. I’ll never understand jogging, pounding your knees until you’re sweaty in an attempt to be unable to hear your ipod properly. Weirdos.

The arteries of a dog

The arteries of a dog

I’d selected the museum of science as there was no modern art museum on offer in Boston. While musing what to do, the hostel had a mural of various things around town and I saw the museum listed there. Fondly remembering the Exploratorium back in SF (where fondly remembering = barring up over), I set out with far more time available. The Museum of Science in Boston was a bit weird. It was part museum exhibits and part hands-on exhibits, whereas the Exploratorium was all hands-on.

Petrified lightning. Hardcore.

Petrified lightning. Hardcore.

There was still lots of cool stuff to see and do, with the exception that once again there were too many kiddliewinks in the way. Damn things. Someone should create some kind of playground with lots of hands-on things to do to keep them out of the way. Saw a 3-D show on bugs narrated by Judi Dench where the heroine gets eaten by the hero. I’ve never really understood getting famous actors to voice-act. “Shall we see the 20 minute featurette ‘Bugs!‘?” -> “Nah, not really interested” -> “Judi Dench is narrating. She’s a Dame, you know?” -> “Fukken SIGN ME UP! In like FLYNN!”

It takes balls to work with electricity

It takes balls to work with electricity

Also saw a show in the planetarium on the Mars rovers that NASA sent up and performed beyond expectations, but the show that really took the cake was the electric show. The bloke running it had his little red lab coat and went through the usual ain’t-it-cool stuff with small Van der Graaf generators and volunteer’s hair, but he inexpertly built the show up through using the Jacob’s ladder and Tesla coils to using one of the largest Van der Graaf generators in the world†. Big, loud zaps. He got into a birdcage and raised it up so it was being zapped so as to demonstrate the skin effect, the generator zapping the cage with 500kV with him putting his hands on the inside of the metal. For dramatic effect he licked his finger and put it opposite the spot on the bar the zaps were striking.

A little bit of me for everyone!

A little bit of me for everyone!

Apart from the shows there were a great variety of themes on display and it took a while to try everything. Favourites were the perceptual illusions and the light benches. Perception and attention have always been a favourite of mine, though my theory is rusty, because I’m always interested in seeing how we perceive the stuff that’s out there, and how we can fool our detectoring devices, not to mention seeing just how many clauses a sentence can hold. But there was stuff on birds, gears, mathematical modelling, playground physics, weather, reproduction and genetics, computer history, desert life, looking for clues like an archaeoligist, music, fluid dynamics, and a passel of stuff that I can’t bring to mind just now. Probably have photos, though.
I want one of these tornado machines

I want one of these tornado machines

Effect of loud sound on fluid

Effect of loud sound on fluid

The evening was spent choring after a brief mental debate of going out drinking with no money and very tired versus smelling like a back-country bull for the next few days. Fought with the crappy internet connection and called it a night. Today has mostly been a travelling day after scoffing a last-minute cup of clam chowder. Nummy. I never did find Gareth’s much-promoted bucket of battered hotdogs. Managed to get the front seat up the top of the bus and I can tell you that it’s kinda scary when you see a low bridge approaching. Add that to the interstate being tree-lined all the way and it wasn’t the most interesting of trips.
So I can be a sneaky bastard if I put my mind to it!

So I can be a sneaky bastard if I put my mind to it!

Now I’m ensconced in the HI hostel in NY and am about to head out for food. It’s huge. And like the one in Boston, I’m on the bloody top floor with no elevator, heavy bags and slightly stuffed knees. Tomorrow is my last full day in the US and unfortunately I’ve got to swap hostels in the middle of it. Weird to think that after all this time I’ll be boarding a plane in 48 hours.

No worries.


† When Americans say ‘the world’, you never know if they mean ‘the Earth’ or ‘the USA’

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2 Responses to “I will do Science to it!”

  1. sam said

    I’m so jealous you got to see the tornado machine.

  2. The world of science is great and wonderful

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