Hollywood meets science in MPM's "Alien Worlds and Androids"
Though younger visitors may enjoy it most, "Alien Worlds and Androids," the new touring exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum, has something for everyone.
The show, produced by Chicagoland's Global Experience Specialists, landed at MPM on Saturday and runs through Jan. 11. Tickets are $5 with museum admission, but free for members.
"It is a fun and interactive way to explore science, technology and engineering, while weaving in the story of science fiction and its role in science," said Dr. Ellen Censky, senior VP and academic dean of Milwaukee Public Museum.
"'Alien Worlds and Androids' also allows us to wed the subject matter of our planetarium with biology by exploring how scientists are searching for life on other planets."
There's not much for artifacts in the new show, which is located in the second floor special exhibition galleries (just across from the snake button), but the panel exhibition offers fascinating glimpses into the solar system and the potential for alien life, as well as robotics, jet propulsion, the human microbiome and even Hollywood.
You'll find Iron Man and towering figures from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and other popular films, but those really are eye candy to lure you into the meat of the show, which seeks to get visitors thinking about the enduring question -- Are we alone in the universe.
It's interesting, especially in the earliest sections of the show, to consider the ways in which a passion for science fiction has influenced actual scientific research as human perception of what is possible grows as the imagination continues to soar ever farther.
For example, advances in robotics seem linked to Hollywood's evolving droids and the show includes replicas of C-3PO from "Star Wars" and T-800 from "The Terminator" pictures.
But visitors can learn more about robotics and artificial intelligence from the exhibit's panels -- including information on how this technology has led to advances in artificial body parts -- and then get some hands-on experience using a mechanical arm and building their own robot figures.
One of the most interesting parts of "Alien Worlds and Androids" is the section on the human microbiome, which explains that 90 percent of the human body is "alien" microbiomes that are at times useful and at times dangerous.
Toward the end of the exhibit is a section on robotic space exploration. Enter through a portal and a fascinating video explains the challenges faced by the designers and engineers of the Mars space rover Curiosity.
If you're lucky, you might grab a seat inside what looks like a rover compartment while you watch.
Plan to spend a little time on your visit at the museum's Dome Theater, to see related films.
"Space Aliens: Looking for Life in the Universe," a 40-minute film made by the museum's Soref Planetarium staff, runs through Jan. 11. In it, you'll soar into space to seek evidence that proves whether or not there is life beyond the planet Earth.
The theater also hosts a sci-fi film festival with films selected by museum guests. The films begin at 6:30 p.m., but doors open at 5:30 p.m. for a planetarium show and "preview fun."
Screening as part of the series are "Jurassic Park," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Planet of the Apes," "Back to the Future" and an as-yet-unnamed finale film.
Full exhibition, film and other details are here.
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