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Miss Lori is in the eye of the storm at the Museum of Science and Industry

Science Storms
Science Storms
MSI Chicago

The forecast today in Chicago is lightning storm, a tornado and even an avalanche! No, it's not the ed of the World it's the beginning of the 38 million dollar Science Storms exhibit at The Museum of Science and Industry. Thanks to the generous donations from The Allstate Corporation, The Allstate Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. David W. Grainger and The Grainger Foundation, an additional major funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The first of it's kind 26,000-square-foot exhibit, allows attendees the opportunity to investigate some principles of chemistry and physics that are responsible for nature’s biggest wonders. It also lets parents and children alike get a hands-on, up-close look at these wonders themselves. Science Storms puts you in the middle of the action and lets you search for answers as to how and why things happen in nature.

  • Control a 40-foot tornado and experiment with air pressure and wind speed.
  • Trigger a 20-foot avalanche to reveal the beauty of granular dynamics.
  • Witness a high-voltage lightning storm from a giant Tesla coil, 20 feet in diameter, to discover electricity and magnetism.
  • Wage a battle of fire vs. water in a live-fire experiment, and see how a flame reacts to different conditions.
  • Make your own giant rainbows with optical prisms, recreating Newton’s famous prism experiment, to observe the physical nature of light.
  • Discover the power and motion of waves by unleashing your own tsunami across a 30-foot wave tank.
  • Transform water into vapor, then into ice and back to water again to explore states of matter.

In addition to the hands on exhibits there are large-scale video presentations that explore the science behind the phenomena—featuring leading researchers and scientists from NASA, NOAA, the United States Geological Survey, Harvard University, the University of Chicago and many more. And that's not all. Interspersed throughout the exhibit are more than 200 important artifacts that bring the experience into even more perspective. Such as...

  • A first copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s Opticks, circa 1704, that records his experiments into the physics of light, including a description of his prism experiment, touted to be one of the most important experiments in history.
  • The oil drop apparatus that Robert Millikan used in his 1923 Nobel prize-winning experiment to measure the charge of a single electron for the very first time.
  • A giant Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) buoy used for detecting tsunamis and transmitting warnings. The buoy, decommissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2008, recorded a tsunami resulting from an 8.3 magnitude earthquake in the Kuril Islands in Russia.

In honor of the opening admission to the Museum of Science an Industry is free today, March 18, 2010. There will even be a special unveiling ceremony at 9:45am. But don't worry if you can't get there right away, this storm isn't going to subside anytime soon. Science Storms is included in general admission, which is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $10 for children ages 3 to 11. City of Chicago residents receive a discounted price as follows: $13 for adults, $12 for seniors and $9 for children 3 to 11. MSI is open every day except December 25, and regular hours are 9:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Museum is supported in part through the generosity of the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, find MSI online at or call (773) 684-1414 or (800) GO-TO-MSI outside of the Chicago area.


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