science/technology related summer travel

  • Imagine you are sipping tea or coffee while discussing various issues with a broad and diverse network of students, colleagues, and friends brought together by the common bond of physics, graduate school, and the physics GRE.

User avatar
dlenmn
Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:19 pm

science/technology related summer travel

Postby dlenmn » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:19 pm

I've been meaning to post some pictures from my trip since I returned in July, but I've only found motivation to do so now that I have to pack... Anyhow, my trip didn't focus on science/technology sights, but I got a good few of them in. I don't have the most exciting pictures (even given the subject matter), but I've posted some anyway.

CERN (Geneva, Switzerland):

Image

The darn thing is underground, so there's not much to show. We decided to go to Geneva on short notice, so I didn't get a chance to sign up for the big tour -- I just went to the museum instead. It wasn't very large, but I thought it was well done -- I even thought it might do a decent job explaining things for non physics types. Things that particularly interested me included a large charged particle detector (not sure what it's called -- same role as a cloud chamber, but much larger and with a different operating principle), and the gold foil experiment set up as a demo you can play with (I hadn't done it before, so that was cool).

Of course, CERN is known for more than just particle physics -- it's the place where the Web as we know it was born. They preserved the original NeXTcube where it all started.

Image

Einstein House (Bern, Switzerland):

Einstein lived here while working as a patent clerk, a period which included his annus mirabilis. The house itself was a bit of a let down -- there wasn't as much there as there could have been, and what was there often wasn't so great (i.e. they showed a film on Einstein which was little more than a listing of dates).

His desk from the patent office. He dubbed one of its drawers his "office of theoretical physics".

Image

You can view Bern's famous clock tower (the Zytglogge -- swiss german is god awful) from the apartment's window. Taking this picture is obligatory given Einstein's connection with time...
Image

Swiss Transportation Museum (Bern, Switzerland):

There's a lot of interesting technology on display here, and the museum is nicely done and all the exhibits had signs in english. Anyone can build a museum anywhere about anything, but they're generally more interesting if they include a lot of local stuff. While some exhibits didn't do so well in this regard (the computer exhibit was mostly about events that happened in California), others -- like those on the phone and postal systems -- were more swiss centered. They might not have come up with the technology, but they knew how to use it (e.g. they were the first nation to fully install automatic telephone exchanges.) Definitely an interesting museum.

The Swiss didn't take a high tech approach to everything -- here's a mail delivery bike.
Image

Voltian Temple (Como, Italy):

Image

Who else but the Italians would build a neoclassical temple as a museum for a scientist? But Alessandro Volta (of SI unit fame) was a local boy, so why not? It's located right on the shore of lake Como, so the surroundings are beautiful. The inside is ridiculously nice too.

Image

They have a nice collection of his apparatuses and experiments. Some of his more famous experiments make use of a thing you don't often see in physics labs -- frogs legs. Luigi Galvani had previously discovered that frogs legs would kick when zapped with electricity, and that they could produce a current if different types of metal were connected to them. However, he thought that this was through an intrinsically biological process -- he called the effect "animal electricity". After doing some experiments with frogs legs, Volta tried other materials and discovered that this was not so. The end result: Volta invented the battery.

Yummy:

Image

Deutsches Museum (Munich, Germany):

This is world's largest science and technology museum, and it is quite simply amazing. It has everything: from musical instruments to electron microscopes. The only downsides are that there aren't english translations for all the exhibits (it seems to be about 50/50 at the moment), and the E&M and mechanics exhibits are kind of old and run down. Still, I would have spent a week there if I'd had time.

I've visited a fair number of science museums (San Fransisco, Boston, and Cleveland to name a few), but my favorite had always been the Franklin institute in Philly (even though they got rid of the mechanics room and replaced it with some dumb sports exhibit). However, the Deutsches Museum definitely takes the crown. Hell, it even has one of Ben's glass harmonicas!

Image

Moreover, it also has a picture from my undergrad institution (the first picture of a scientific experiment in progress -- a picture of one of the first medical X-rays in the US, the first was done there a bit before).

Image

Non Science:

I guess it's also required for me to provide a picture of my lovely mug along with this post... so here it is...

Image

Anyhow, I'm headed out to Wisconsin tomorrow. I imagine that school is about to start up for a lot of folks here, so I wish you luck!

User avatar
quizivex
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:13 am

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby quizivex » Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:31 pm

cool!

marten
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:21 am

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby marten » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:34 pm

Hey, dlenmn, cool post! Nice to see something really interesting for a change.

We went to Europe this summer also and I second the Deutsches Museum, I could have spent 3 consecutive days there and still been drooling for more. It is pretty clear which parts have been recently refurbished (and translated to English) and which ones are still on the to do list. Did you get to the mining stuff down in the basement? One of my favorite parts was the sundial exhibit up on the roof. There was a polyhedron with 25 sundials on the faces. Overall, the whole thing is very well done, and incredibly comprehensive.

Hah, not to copy your post completely, but, I can't resist and I'm going to anyway....

Image
The Sundial exhibit on the roof.

Image
The calcuations for this must be rather cumbersome

Image
It takes a lot of power to generate 1000 W

Image
A 50/50 concoction of beer and lemonade is refreshing after biking through the English Gardens

Grad school related: Orientation started this week, and classes begin on Monday, good luck to the rest of you.

Marten
Last edited by marten on Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
dlenmn
Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:19 pm

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby dlenmn » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:20 pm

Marten, your images aren't loading for me -- I just see the text "image". You gotta fix that... I want to see the pictures! (I'm hosting mine on imageshack -- it's free and seems to work well).

POST PICTURE POSTING EDIT: Wow, you really did copy my post. I approve.

Glad to hear that you were there too -- that place is really something (and Munich is pretty cool in general).

I neither got to the roof nor to the basement -- which illustrates how much great stuff is there. I only got to spend a half day at the museum, and it was directly after my, uhhh, mug shot, which was in turn after this delicious traditional Bavarian breakfast (weisswurst, a pretzel, and a weissbier -- well I substituted another beer because I wanted to try something new).

Image

Long story short, the metallurgy exhibit took a long time... I did most of the first floor and part of the second. I need to get back there sometime and finish the job.

Did you hit any other cool science sights on your trip?
How is Bethlehem treating you?

marten
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:21 am

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby marten » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:56 pm

Yeah, they were spotty for me also, I put them up on imageshack, hopefully that works better.

Munich was great, I think the museum was definitely a top. I didn't expect to see surfers in the middle of Munich,

Image

Heh, yeah, we had the same traditional Bavarian breakfast also. The white sausage was great, I'd love to find some like that around here in the U.S.

Image

And a couple other random shots of our trip.

Image
Touring the Netherlands by bike (is there any other way?)

Image
For anyone that thought a smart car was small.

Image
Sarcastic Quote: "This is awesome" (He wasn't nearly as enthralled as I was with the Deutsches Museum!)

I didn't even get to the metallurgy part, we started at the roof, and worked our way down, hitting the basement before we left. I'd totally go back...

Bethlehem has been good so far, we arrived right during Music Fest, and we have a great view of the valley from our apartment. I've met several of the other students and professors, seems like a good crowd so far. I'm still not used to these hills, I'm from the midwest and these slopes seem just ridiculous. Here was the view from our bedroom window:

Image

Image

Marten

User avatar
quizivex
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:13 am

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby quizivex » Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:16 pm

hmmm marten's and dlenmn's pics were mysteriously similar... especially the museum shots and the beer drinking...

What surprises me the most is how well the fireworks showed up in your pic... I went to disneyworld with my grandmother and aunt when i was 8 and I wasted several rolls of film trying to take pictures of the firework displays at night... Grandma had pretended to be disabled cuz they'd let us skip the lines at the rides... So during the fireworks, we sat in the disabled area right at the waterfront and had the best view... I took tons of pics but the fireworks never showed up at all on the photos... So when my mom got my pics developed, all she saw in the pics was a congregation of people with wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and other gear. She said, "What's wrong with you? I bought you all this film just for you to take 100 pictures of handicappers?"

ha!

marten
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:21 am

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby marten » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:00 am

Yeah, the photographic evidence points to me stalking dlenmn, following him around Europe and copying his vacation... I admit, I'm guilty...

I took a bunch of firework shots, many of which didn't turn out at all. These are probably two of the best. The trick is to use long exposures, and try and balance the ambient light (very little at night) with the intensity of the firework light. It's hard to juggle them both when you don't know how many fireworks are going to go off and how bright they'll be. In this case digital is nice because I could delete all the ones that didn't work.

Quizivex, your grandma sounds awesome, I bet she was fun to hang out with!

Marten

User avatar
dlenmn
Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:19 pm

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby dlenmn » Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:30 pm

marten wrote:Yeah, the photographic evidence points to me stalking dlenmn, following him around Europe and copying his vacation... I admit, I'm guilty...


It really does look like we hit a lot of the same spots. I don't remember many places serving Schneider beer, and the chairs look about the same too (no tablecloth though).

Image

Anyhow, I guess I should retaliate by posting some more pictures.

We visited the Netherlands too, but the best place was somewhere decidedly less flat/below sea level. They've got some sweet mountains in Switzerland.

Image

Image

The swiss even provide ammo for a little July snowball action (part of their national defense plan no doubt, although it wasn't such great snowball snow).

Image

Apparently this is what passes for a pass thereabout. Not much more than a notch in the rock.

Image

The other side. The grass was not greener.

Image

Anyhow, Madison is pretty sweet. And I've met VT -- he's even more awesome in practice than in theory.

User avatar
quizivex
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:13 am

Re: science/technology related summer travel

Postby quizivex » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:53 pm

dlenmn wrote:And I've met VT -- he's even more awesome in practice than in theory.

That's great!!

Hopefully I'll be sent on a plasma business trip to Wisconson someday and I'll get to meet you guys.




Return to “Physics Lounge”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest