Earthquake ride and other new science adventures in Golden Gate Park Essay

Earthquake ride and other new science adventures in Golden Gate Park “Seismophobia’ is a term for the exaggerated fear ofearthquakes. Confronting that fear by riding out a simulated quake isone learning adventure in the new Earth and Space Hall in SanFrancisco’s Golden Gate Park. Opened in October, the hall is atthe Natural History Museum of the California Academy of Sciences.

Terrestrial phenomena Most compelling exhibit is the “safequake’ ride. Youjoin a small group aboard a specially engineered shake-table for aseries of simulated tremors, culminating in a 6.5-magnitude jolt(equivalent to the temblor that rocked Coalinga, California, in May1983). As you ride, you’ll hear the sounds of actual quakes.

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It’s hoped that the total effect will motivate riders to takeearth-quake-preparedness action at home. Nearby, you can monitor two working seismographs. Other exhibitsdeal with plate tectonics and volcanism. The latter one helps yourecognize a caldera and lets you feel the differences between variousvolcanic rocks. Celestial sights As you enter the 4,400-square-foot hall, stop to meet “The OldWoman,’ second largest meteorite ever found in the United States.In 1976, this pockmarked chunk of iron and nickel, weighing 2 1/2 tons,was discovered by prospectors in the Old Woman Mountains of SanBernardino County, California.

Suspended from the ceiling is a spectacular model of our solarsystem. The planets, scaled so 1 inch equals 3,000 kilometers, rotateat relative speeds. A mural depicts star life, from birth to death. Want to know your weight on other planets? Scales with digitalreadouts will tell you, for example, that if you weigh 100 pounds onEarth, you’d weigh 16 on the Moon, but 287 on gigantic Jupiter. At a laser disc player, you have computerassisted access to alibrary of color photographs taken on recent NASA missions, includingspace shuttle flights. In the renovated Morrison Planetarium, the traditional”Christmas Star’ show will run from November 30 throughJanuary 1. Until November 25, the “Great American StarFactory’ show explains how celestial effects are projected onto the65-foot dome.

The 45-minute shows run several times daily. Admissionto the planetarium is extra: $2 for adults, 75 cents for ages under 17and seniors. Museum admission, including entry to the new hall and SteinhartAquarium, is $2 for adults, $1 for ages 12 to 17, 75 cents for ages 6 to11; free for members; free for all on the first Wednesday of everymonth. Hours are 10 to 5 daily.

Photo: Safe-quake simulation (left) re-creates tremors for riderson shake-table; screen shows quake-prone coastal scene. Old Womanmeteorite (below) undergoes scrutiny by young earthlings Photo: Shiny orb of Foucault pendulum demonstrates rotation ofEarth: it drifts .005 inch per swing, knocking down one wooden pegevery 22 minutes. Ringed planets are Jupiter and Saturn


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