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Media Contact:  Shell Amega 213-744-7496
(digital images available)
June 24, 2002
SPEED Exhibit at the California Science Center: Opens October 2, 2002
Take a virtual bobsled ride on an Olympic-style run.

Los Angeles - In a society often obsessed with moving at an ever faster pace, the exhibit SPEED chronicles this cultural and technological fascination with a 6,000 square-foot experience that transports guests into the world of high performance, barrier smashing motion. SPEED, a national traveling exhibit, opens at the California Science Center on October 2 and continues through December 31, 2002.

Racing cars, planes boats and eccentric custom vehicles, are featured in the exhibit which engages guests of all backgrounds and ages. The experiences focus on the science and technology of pushing the envelope to achieve record setting speed while explaining the limits of getting there. Visitors learn the way speed affects objects, for example, the Penny Smasher actually allows guests to see the affect of speed during rapid deceleration (slowing down). How does speed effect human beings?

Stories throughout the exhibit highlight people who have tested the limits of speed and the resulting consequences. Air Force Colonel John Paul Stapp has done what no one before him dared to do. He survived a rapid deceleration totaling 45 g's in a controlled experiment. Stapp went from 632 mph to 0 mph in 1.4 seconds, causing bruises over 90% of his body, including the inside of his eyelids. The exhibit also follows ongoing attempts to break the sound barrier like the story of Cheryl Stearns, the twenty-one-time US women's skydiving champion, who is preparing to accomplish this unusual feat.

SPEED Exhibit's Five Sections

The exhibit, created by COSI Columbus with support from the National Science Foundation and the Science Museum Exhibits Collaborative, presents five sections.

  1. GO! - This area investigates speed as a quantity. What is speed and how fast do we achieve it? What are the features that enhance or retard speed? What are the mathematical relations that govern the concept of going fast? In Go! guests can build their own car to find out how different designs impact speed and experience Carvolution to find out how design has affected 90 years of Indianapolis 500 winners' times.
  2. STOP! - The causes and consequences of rapid deceleration. What happens when speed vanishes? What does it mean to say that stopping is really accelerating? Guests will hear stories of what its like when racecar drivers Hit the Wall and crash. They will also get to smash pennies with the Penny Smasher to find out what happens to objects during rapid deceleration.
  3. DRAG! - Despite Newton's Laws, common experience shows us things slow down. Here we find out why. What are the various impediments to speed, both on solid ground and in the air? In Drag! guests can Spin Their Wheels while they try to manage friction relative to speed and learn how aerodynamics help vehicles preserve speed.
  4. PUSH! - Explore the sources of speed and where it comes from. How do you get speed and how do you keep it? Guests learn about g-force, acceleration and thrust and how they effect how fast we go. Visitors climb into the Bobsleds and feel the effects of a human push and build their own roller coasters to find out how design can give them the push they need to go fast.
  5. ZOOM! - Strange things happen at high speeds, things that defy common sense. Find out just how fast the speed of sound is and why we call the speed of light the ultimate barrier. Here watch and listen as a cord is pulled on a bullwhip to create a sonic boom and break the sound barrier.

After the exhibit closes in Los Angeles, it will travel to Boston, Massachusetts and Ft. Worth, Texas.

Note to Editors: The California Science Center is located at 700 State Drive - Exposition Park, Los Angeles. Enter visitor parking at 39th & Figueroa Street; parking is $6 per car. Activities are on all three floors of the Science Center. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to Science Center exhibits is free. For general information, phone 323.SCIENCE (323.724-3623) or visit our website at http://www.casciencectr.org/. Both the Science Center and IMAX Theater are wheelchair accessible.

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