MSI exhibit takes guests by storm

March 23, 2010 (RELEASE) Be blown away by a 40-foot tornado swirling before you. See bolts of lightning crack over your head. Trigger an avalanche. Unleash a tsunami wave. It's all possible beginning March 18, 2010, as the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) unveils Science Storms, an unprecedented and dramatic permanent exhibit in newly-named Allstate Court that reveals the extraordinary science behind some of nature's most powerful and compelling phenomena-tornados, lightning, fire, tsunamis, sunlight, avalanches and atoms in motion.

"Creating transformative experiences that get people excited about the world around them is what the Museum of Science and Industry does best, and exhibits like Science Storms are our most powerful teaching tools," said David Mosena, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry. "This exhibit will provide real experiences that reinforce essential scientific principles-as well as curiosity that lasts a lifetime."

Inside the 26,000-square-foot exhibit, you'll investigate the basic principles of chemistry and physics that are responsible for nature's biggest wonders, while you 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.

As you investigate each of these forces of nature, you'll experience dynamic, 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. Interspersed throughout the exhibit are more than 200 important artifacts that help you to further understand the various scientific principles at work. Among them, you'll see:

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.

Nothing like Science Storms has been seen before in this kind of breadth, scope and scale. MSI worked with its lead design partner, Evidence Design of Brooklyn, N.Y., to create a truly cutting-edge and groundbreaking experience. Elements from the exhibit-like 20-foot fire chamber you can use to explore the battle between fire and water-have been taken directly from real laboratories and made accessible to Museum guests.

"Science Storms inspires wonder in a way that makes the kid in each of us want to know more about how science touches our everyday lives," said Vicky Dinges, assistant vice president of public social responsibility for Allstate. "That's why we're proud to support Science Storms. In our business, we see first-hand the power of these natural phenomena, and we think this exhibit is a powerful teaching tool to not only help the general public understand the forces of nature but also to inspire the next generation of scientists who will help research, understand and better predict them."

Science Storms is brought to you through the generosity of The Allstate Corporation, The Allstate Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. David W. Grainger and The Grainger Foundation. Additional major funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

To celebrate the opening of Science Storms, MSI will be free on the exhibit's opening day, March 18, 2010, and the Museum will kick things off with an unveiling ceremony at 9:45 a.m. 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.

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) offers thousands of fun and interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind, world-class experiences to inspire the inventive genius in everyone. Through its Center for the Advancement of Science Education, MSI also aspires to a larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. Come visit and find your inspiration! 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.

Science Storms
Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive
(773) 684-1414

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