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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Reluctant Blogger: History in 90 Seconds

One of the most awesome displays in the Cosmosphere collection is the SR-71 Blackbird that graces our front lobby. Mysterious to this day, the Blackbird is a plane that looks very much like an alien spaceship. It is so beautifully integrated into the lobby that people often miss it completely as they pass underneath it. Coming in at #7 in our top ten countdown of most fascinating artifacts is the SR-71 Blackbird.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Reluctant Blogger: History in 90 Seconds

The Hall of Space Museum tells how the rocket shaped the modern world. The "Space Race" is a huge component in that story. There is a stark contrast between the competing cultures both in their approach to solving problems and in the hardware of their spaceships. The differences are easy for visitors to see when they compare the vessels of the two programs side by side. The Soviets were secretive and simple, while the Americans were free wheeling, and complex. However, the two programs shared the common language and philosophy of mathematics. The small and humble twin artifacts that share the number eight spot in our countdown are an enduring symbol of the undeniable power of numbers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Reluctant Blogger

Among the many positions I have held at the Cosmosphere is the role of Planetarium Director. Back then, I went outside at night and scoped out the positions of the stars and planets, so I could point them out during planetarium shows. Now, that I am Director of Education, I have let this activity all but slip away. It is my loss. If you haven’t taken a look at the night sky lately or ever, go out tonight after sunset and look east. That brilliant red star that doesn’t twinkle is Mars. Then, turn around and look west. The two bright lights close together are Venus and Jupiter. Venus is the brighter of the two. If you look at these planets for a little while, you may be struck with a small sense of how many people have come before you and seen this same thing and felt as you may feel about the wonder of it all. It only takes a few moments to make that connection, but the feeling can last a lifetime.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Reluctant Blogger: History in 90 Seconds

Many years ago, when I was the front desk evening week-end manager, I trained tour guides. They were inevitably high school students who were naturally apprehensive about giving a tour through a museum that primarily dealt with things they had not directly experienced. My advice to them was to go downstairs, identify their favorite artifact, then learn all they could about that piece. This exercise would eventually lead them to a deeper understanding of the whole story our museum tells. The cosmosphere's Russian collection is a big part of why the Hall of Space is so incredible. So, at number nine, is my personal favorite, the RD 107 rocket engines from the Soviet Union.