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The Science of Things: MSI Debuts New Exhibit & Film

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 22, 2015 6:00PM

It's already been a big year for Chicago museums, from the MCA's new budget and closing of the Bowie exhibit to the Field Museum’s incredible Viking collection. So when we were invited to the Museum of Science and Industry to see a new exhibit and new Omnimax film that both opened last week, we couldn't wait to see what they had in store.

The exhibit, called Materials Science, is a partnership with Northwestern University’s Materials Research Center, and its goal is to show the role of physics, chemistry and even biology in the normal things we encounter in our daily lives. Visitors to the exhibit, which is included in the regular price of admission, can view a timeline of historical references and follow innovations as they develop into modern day. There's also an interactive component where you can design magnets, compare different types of tiles, construct molecules and see a top-grade Atomic Probe Field Ion Microscope, a tool that allows scientists to see materials at a molecular level.

Also new to MSI is "Journey To Space," an Omnimax film that focuses on the end of the shuttle era and uncovers what’s next for NASA and space exploration. The movie is narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart and includes interviews with astronauts Chris Ferguson and Serena Aunon.

Instead of providing a retrospective on the shuttle era, which we've seen countless times before, "Journey To Space" delivers a look ahead. Its scope starts with the last shuttle mission, but soon expands to include the development of the Space Launce System, a new and more powerful rocket designed to carry Orion, which is the first spacecraft created for deep space travel and extended missions. The hope is that this craft will allow astronauts to land on Mars in our lifetime (perhaps 2030, as the film notes). The film takes a detailed look at the gravity of what it would take to complete a Mars mission, but it's counter-balanced with an interesting, inspiring and sometimes funny look at what it’s like to be in space on a day-to-day basis.

If you’re like us, the end of the space shuttle era came with a certain sadness. Watching "Journey to Space" is a great remedy that reignites a childlike wonder and fascination of the outer galaxies and gives us hope that we’ll see some truly incredible advances in our future. The movie shows daily at 10 a.m, 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. in a giant screen format, and requires a separate ticket for entry.

If you haven’t been to MSI in a while, it might be time to stop on by and see what’s new.