Monday, February 12, 2007

they blinded me with science!

When my grandparents lived in Leaside, one of my favourite nearby places to go was the Ontario Science Centre, because what little kid doesn't like to play around with dials and buttons that make magical things happen?

I'm not sure if, until a weekend ago, I had visited the OSC this century. I know Amy and I visited once while one or the other was in university, but exactly when is a foggy memory. When a friend organized a Saturday afternoon visit, I figured it was a good opportunity to see if anything was left from childhood.

I wasn't disappointed.

The Evil Elevator of the Emissaries of Evil? The Thermal View
We started off at the Marvel Superheroes special exhibit. Access was via a dimly lit elevator, which one half expected a battle to bust through. Upon entering the main area, we hit the Human Torch exhibit, with its thermal imaging. In other words, how I'd look on a record cover, c. 1980.

Doc Ock Advengers Assemble!
Left: a life-size model of Doc Ock, with an arm you could manipulate. Sadly missing: the history of his attempts to marry Spider-Man's Aunt May. Right: one area allowed kids to colour in panels or draw their own creations. The Advengers were the cutest of the lot, especially the look of disbelief/weariness on the sword-wielding monkey.

One section of the exhibit showed films of Stan Lee discussing Marvel Comics and science. One piece of film they didn't show: Stan the Man's 1970 appearance as a contestant on To Tell the Truth. Can you pick out Stan before the panel does?


In case you were curious, the host in this clip is Garry Moore, while the panel consists of Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Bill Cullen and Kitty Carlisle.

1959 Oakville Property Assessment
After some simulated web-swinging and wall-crawling, it was time to move on to the main exhibit halls. Among the oddities: an intact 1959 Oakville property assessment, from a display on how, with the right conditions, garbage can be preserved for longer than we like.

Test Yourself Confinement
Left: Now this takes me back. Every few years, a travelling exhibit from the OSC made its way to Windsor, usually at the main library branch on Ouellette or the Cleary Auditorium. "Test yourself" boards like this one were always part of these roadshows. Right: a confinement chamber, part of the A Question of Truth exhibit on our views of differences between people and how these relate to science. This box is intended to simulate the horrifying conditions for those being transported on slave ships or extermination camp trains.

Building Up to a Brighter Future Electricity and Magnetism
Memories kicked into high gear when we reached the Science Arcade, though the space seems brighter now. Pedal power, theremins, etc. - still loads of fun after 25 years.

Mirror Image (1) Older Innovation
Left: fun with mirrors. Right: On with the new, the Weston Family Innovation Centre. Had time permitted, I may have taken a crack at playing around with creating things out of old circuit boards, telephones and high-heels. As with other parts of the OSC, I also proved my inability to play anything more advanced than Louie Louie or the opening bars of Elvis Costello's Pump It Up on keyboard, especially when causing sludge to bubble.

Poem of the Day
A poetic interlude.

A Face Rising Hands Rising
This exhibit transfixed us for at least 20 minutes. A computer took your picture, when was then formed by lights on a nearby monolith. The results had a "big brother" like feel, though I'd probably go for a benevolent expression next time. Hands proved as effective as faces in providing a decent image.

So ended six hours that flew by fast. - JB

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