Simulated Lightning at Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, has an interesting exhibit entitled “Science Storms.”

“Science Storms” includes six-large-scale exhibits (according to The Museum of Science and Industry):

  1. AVALANCHE DISK: Guests can trigger an avalanche by experimenting with a large, rotating disk of particles that show patterns while in motion. The 20-foot-diameter disk is angled at a fixed incline and filled with a two-color granular mixture of glass beads and garnet sand.
  2. 40-FOOT TORNADO: Visitors can be immersed in a 40-foot tornado to experiment with a towering vortex of vapor. Walk inside the swirling, illuminated tornado to disrupt its shape and then watch it reform.
  3. WAVE TANK (TSUNAMI): Guests can unleash their own tsunamis across a 30-foot wave tank. They control the wave tank by choosing the type of wave to create and then observe the impact of the wave on different coasts.
  4. SUNLIGHT: Visitors can explore the energy and colors in sunlight by experimenting with giant optical prisms that reflect natural light reflected through a 10-by-10-foot skylight by a heliostat mirror system on the Museum’s roof. The result might be a huge rainbow reflected on 30-foot-tall white screens.
  5. TESLA COIL (LIGHTNING): Based on the design of Nikola Tesla, the exhibit’s coil creates bright, loud and large electrical arcs. Two 20-foot-diameter grounding rings surround a round coil that sends high-voltage electrical arcs jumping 10 feet. The Tesla coil discharges 1.2 million volts of electricity.
  6. LIVE-FIRE EXPERIMENT: Visitors can study the chemistry of combustion by experimenting with live fire and witnessing how the flame reacts to changing conditions. They can ignite and adjust an 12- to 18-inch flame inside a fireproof glass booth and manipulate the size of water droplets falling from an overhead sprinkler system to understand the interaction between fire and water.

The Museum of Science and Industry is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The ticket price, included in museum  admission, is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and $10 for children ages 3 to 11.


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