17 February 2017

2016 MICHIGAN Kalamazoo - POPnology

In town we have the Kalamazoo Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum (info at: http://www.airzoo.org/index.php?menu_id=7). It is a multi-sensory experience for all ages. It includes displays of 50+ diverse aircraft, wartime memorabilia and history, and learning experiences.

On-going exhibits include an SR-71B Blackbird (fastest plane ever built), space history, 3-D full-motion flight simulators, the Michigan Aviator Hall of Fame, flight related murals and artwork, indoor kid amusement rides such as "hot air balloons," and much, much more. In summer they even offer bi-plane rides over the city of Kalamazoo and learning camps for kids.
POPnology was a traveling exhibit here. It explored how popular culture influenced technology. Mike is a war buff and aircraft "expert." Although these topics do not interest me so much, the POPnology exhibit was fabulous.
It demonstrated how movies, books, television, and art influence our current culture. Objects in our daily lives have been created from ideas made by futurists such Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry, Walt Disney, and even Leonardo Da Vinci.

One display presented a home from the 1950's and estimated how long it took to accomplish everyday tasks such as ironing, researching an Encyclopedia, winding a clock, and recording audio tapes. Then it gave an estimate of how much less time it takes to do the same tasks with today's "tools." I think it was something like four hours to only 40 minutes now.
It compares the concept of the wrist phone seen in Dick Tracy comics that I read as a kid to the Apple iWatch that many wear today. The display walked you though generations of walkie-talkies to brick size cell phones to smart phones and finally all the way to today's iWatch. The Dick Tracy wrist communicator looks uncannily like the iWatch of today.

Robots were another big topic. The Terminator and R2-D2 of movie fame were on display, along with other "famous" humanoid robots.

Yet another area was dedicated to robotics and all the things they can do to aid in manufacturing, medical surgery, and more.
You could also experience high-tech virtual reality glasses. The line was long for that so I didn't get a chance to try. I was a little nervous on that one anyway because I heard you can easily get motion sickness when using them.

Pixel history and technology were traced. You could see the progress from PacMan to Mario Brothers to the big, flashy billboards you see roadside today.

Then we saw an area dealing with 3-D printing. It is amazing all the intricate and useful things that can be made with these latest versions of printers. The possibilities are artistic and endless.

What I mentioned here just scratched the surface of knowledge offered in this diverse and fascinating exhibit. Displays include toys and games, transportation, communication, and inventions and ideas that shape our everyday lives. Lots of color and creativity. Did I mention interactive!? Lots of that, too.

Updated displays are often added. I understand there is now a section on driverless cars and drones, AND the world's first 3-D printed car. So things and ideas that were imagined way-back-when have actually come to fruition in the real world today. See a fusion of fantasy and future. From science fiction to scientific fact.

This exhibit is no longer on display at the Air Zoo, but in 2017 it is showing at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and the Boston Museum of Science. Check it out, if you life nearby.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.