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Am I the only one that finds the idea of the Auger Observatory being one that studies high engery particles that fall from the sky to earth an amusing aptronym?

Note: It's a good thing they don't have a flight school there, too.

I love science museums, thanks for the recommendations.

bc

It's not surprising the exhibits are falling into disrepair after just a few years. What a colossal waste of money the Tech was. What a monument to unbridled donor ego.

As for the reporter's musings that the Exploratorium's offerings look "dated", all I can say is that The People have voted with their feet. Hands-on exhibits that plunge you right in the middle of electromagnetism, mechanics, fields and waves, biology, perception... those never go out of style.

From a member of the Gotcha gang:
Even though I live in a "non-metric" nation (isn't the USA the ONLY remaining non-metric nation?) I know that a square kilometer is .386 of a square mile, not .6 sq mi as reported in Style and Substance. When you go from linear to area, you gotta square the conversion factor.
Exploratorium rocks!

We welcome Gotcha Gang members, as long as they're not rude (and Robinki is not only polite, but amusing). It's the only way to catch our errors. I tend to type posts late at night, and even though I try to proofread them in the morning, I still miss small typos and stuff. In this case, though, the error is on the University of Chicago Website, so I don't feel so bad.

That said, I am a typical Ugly American when it comes to metric conversion: I can handle Fahrenheit to Celsius, and I measure my water intake in liters, but that's about as far as it goes. I strongly support the ongoing movement to urge the US to switch to metric. It would force me, and everyone else, to finally learn it once and for all.

Which I guess makes me atypical of many Americans.

Hi Jen, further to Robinski's sharp eye, may I offer or remind you the simple rule of thumb:

1 km - 5/8 of a mile
1 sq km - 25/64 of a sq mile

and for a cubic kilometre just follow on from there

The Tech and the Exploratorium are both disappointing, the Tech for the reasons already cited and the Exploratorium because it ranks scientific accuracy below entertainment in its list of priorities. I quit the Exploratorium a few years ago when they had an event featuring broccoli-spirulina kinds of "memory drinks" as part of an exhibit on cognition. I complained that there was no peer-reviewed literature to support the idea that broccoli improves memory and that a science museum should not put its imprimatur on speculative, unsupported ideas. In response I was told that the Exploratorium is a "museum of human perception, not a museum of science."

The hot museum here in Silicon Valley is actually the Computer History Museum, http://www.computerhistory.org/. There has been a lot of tongue-wagging about how the CHM is attracting support by the truckload that the Tech would dearly love to have. The CHM hardly has any interpretive material, mostly just static displays of old computers, but it does have excellent docents, an entertaining speaker series (Gordon Moore! Irwin Jacobs! Whit Diffie!) and a better location (free parking).

Actually, the Exploratorium is supposed to be a museum of science, art, *and* human perception, so whoever said that it was a museum of human perception instead of science was mistaken. Please don't write off an otherwise stimulating introduction to science for many kids on account of one poor choice in an exhibit a few years back. There are new people running the show now.

I love the Computer History Museum, too, though it does help to be a bit of a geek with a sense of history to appreciate the significance of the artifacts on view. If I were a kid, I'd still rather go to the Exploratorium or see a space show at the decades-old planetarium than look at a bunch of nonfunctional metal and plastic boxes. Playing with things is always going to be more fun than looking at them (though I agree, some of the interactive exhibits at the Tech didn't seem to have much of a point, as far as I could tell from Rothstein's descriptions--I've never been to the Tech myself).

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.