Centro de Ciencia Principia

This is a little different kind of place and post. Based on the descriptions of the Center for Scientific Principles, we expected to be competing with school tours to get our turns with the displays. That was close; it turned out to be the two of us and one high school physics department of about 60 students. They were very respectful.

First, we were ushered into an auditorium and given a one hour demonstration of many, many scientific principles, all in Spanish. The demonstrations were designed to entertain high school students, lots of static electricity, laser beams, and exploding things. It should give the teachers plenty of material to fill up the rest of the year.

We thoroughly enjoyed it, partly because the demonstrations were so well done and partly because the students were so engaged.

Unlike some of the art museums, our understanding seemed important to them. We got a lot of physics with electricity, light, energy, heat, and color, or those may all be the same thing. The demonstrations in this video, which I did not make, are more concentrated on chemistry, some we saw, several we didn’t, and some that we did see aren’t here.  (It will take a least half an hour to watch them all.)

Some of the demonstrations use fairly standard magician gimmicks to set up the main point. For example, the one with blood doesn’t really involve cutting anyone although the blood is real. Teleporting of water used a trick for the teleporting part but not for the water disappearing part. But after some of other things we had seen and for a generation that has grown up with many generations of Star Trek, the students weren’t sure if they should believe the teleporting or not.

(“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarke)

Most of the chemistry used indicator chemicals, which you should remember from your college chemistry class on qualitative analysis, and glasses of clear liquid that sometimes were water. If you need to know more, there is a short text at the end of many clips with the explanation (in Spanish.)

Room of interactive modules; I found my fisheye lens
After class, we were turned loose into rooms of things we could play with. They didn’t let us have lasers, Bunsen burners, liquid nitrogen, or vandegraff generators. We are always intrigued with optical illusions; our classmates were less so. They were far more interested in the parabolic dishes that let them talk across the room without using their mobiles. ¿Qué sigue?

The old woman (la abuela) or the girl (la nieta) is around a lot; once you see the grandmother, she is hard to get rid of. The woman or the saxophonist is less common. The third with the profile of a man in glasses I hadn’t seen before. If you want to see naked women, try tilting your head 60° to the right. When you want the man back, tilt 30° to the left.

Finally fun with colored lights and primary colors. Who does my hair?

There was also a planetarium and observatory but we didn’t try to compete for the limited seats in the planetarium and we were several hours early for the observatory. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a planetarium where I didn’t fall asleep as soon as the stars came out.

I am not responsible for any injuries incurred when tilting your head to the right too quickly. If you did see naked women, never take a Rorschach inkblot test.

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