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Star Wars Science Exhibit Lands In California

Written By: Abel S.

December 20th, 2011

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Hello Star Wars and sci-fi fans!  Honest Abe here with a close up look at a new exhibit currently residing at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California; Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination.  At first glance, it’s easy to pass this off as just an interactive exhibit for kids.  You’re not too far off but at the same time, it’s so much more.  Sure, there are props galore from all the movies.  There are models and miniatures, costumes and props.  There’s even a full size Landspeeder.  But the point is to make you think about how some of these things work using real world technology as well as examining the limitless possibilities for the future.  You’ll be introduced to the science behind the fantasy.

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For example, we are all familiar with the Landspeeder but did you know that it uses maglev or magnetic levitation just like you would find in many high speed bullet trains around the world?  At the exhibit, you will see examples of maglev technology at work.  You will also get the opportunity to build your own miniature maglev car and watch it work!  (No, you can’t ride it home.)  Throughout the exhibit are Engineering Design Labs where a challenge is put forth to you, such as the aforementioned building of a maglev vehicle.  Other challenges include designing a robot like R2-D2 or making a robot like the AT-ST actually walk. 

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The exhibit also features video monitors displaying interviews with various scientists and engineers who are experts in their respective fields. They discuss how many of the aspects of the Star Wars films have opened up the possibilities of what we so loved in those films and how these concepts could one day be fully realized. For instance, consider how far our medical advancements have come in the field of artificial limb replacements. Now think about someday being able to replace a missing arm with an arm like Anakin Skywalker. What about Darth Vader? Think of the apparatus he wears that essentially keeps him alive and allows him to function normally as well. Modern scientific applications in the field of prosthetics could lead to such a real world possibility.

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These are things I never thought about when I was but a wee lad those many years ago when I first saw these films.  All I could think of was “Wow” and “Cool” and “I wish I could fly in the Millennium Falcon”.  Oh wait.  Did I forget to mention that at the Discovery Science Center you can actually fly in the Falcon…from a certain point of view?  The highlight of the exhibit for me and maybe for you is the Millennium Falcon experience where you get to sit in the cockpit of that hunk of junk and watch a multimedia presentation hosted by C-3PO.  During this short film, you’ll get to experience virtual lightspeed as you are taken on a journey to the farthest reaches of the known galaxy.  It’s quite interesting actually.  Again, this is something that I had not seen before.  You’ll be looking at actual footage of how far our satellites and deep space probes have travelled.  And you do it while sitting in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon!!!  (*drool*)  It’s a part of the exhibit that is not to be missed. 

Make sure you plan to spend some extra time there.  The exhibit itself is not too big but you’ll want to take your time to soak it all in as well as take part in some of the exhibits if you go when there’s a crowd.   Bring a camera and extra batteries and be sure you stop by the gift shop on your way out.  Aside from toys and shirts, there is a pretty good selection of Star Wars books as well.

The exhibit is currently running until April 15, 2012. 

For further information, please go to: http://www.discoverycube.org/star-wars/

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*Special thanks to Erin Rhodes at the Discovery Science Center for providing me with access to the exhibit.*