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Bolts, Jolts and Volts from the Sun

The Space Science Institute, in partnership with the Franklin Institute Science Museum, has developed a major hands-on exhibition called Electric Space: Bolts, Jolts, and Volts from the Sun that is the centerpiece of a wide-ranging education effort in space science.  Visitors to the 3800 square foot (350 square meter) exhibition explore the Sun and how our closest star can cause Earth's largest light show: the polar aurora. They also learn about "space weather" and the effect it has on technology, as well as on humans working in space. The exhibition is organized into five main content areas:




Welcome to Electric Space
Plasma, the Fourth State of Matter
Our Dynamic Sun
Planet Earth -- A Great Magnet
Reaching for the Stars
Welcome to Electric Space!
The visitor is introduced to the space environment and its relationship to Earth. By exploring this environment, we gain knowledge about important processes that happen throughout the universe. This natural space laboratory is our window to the stars.

Plasma, The Fourth State of Matter
From lightning discharges in Earth's atmosphere to pulsars and galactic jets, electricity and magnetism in space play an important role. Visitors explore various types of plasmas and learn how the plasma state of matter manifests itself in nature. They also learn the secrets of magnetism and how magnetism and electricity are related to each other and to the fourth state of matter.
Our Dynamic Sun
Energy from the Sun is vital to life on Earth. The Sun is, however, variable. From the core to its outer layers, the Sun is in constant motion. Secrets of the Sun are revealed explaining how energy is produced in the core and how it is transported to the surface. Only then can it escape in the form of electromagnetic radiation and the ethereal solar wind. Solar activity may have far reaching effects on all of Earth's life -- effects we are only now beginning to learn about.
Planet Earth -- A Great Magnet
The Earth itself is a gigantic magnet. The solar wind confines the Earth's magnetic field to a comet-shaped cavity known as the magnetosphere, and within the magnetosphere one finds such regions as the Van Allen radiation belts. Magnetic storms and other space weather phenomena are explained. The mysterious aurora, or Northern Lights, are described and visitors can interact with an aurora terralla -- an incredible 30-inch diameter spherical device (shown at left) that simulates the generation of aurora near Earth.

Reaching For The Stars
The visitor is introduced to the concept that there is a unique region of space in which the Sun's influence predominates. In analogy to the magnetosphere, this region is called the heliosphere and it illustrates a basic hierarchical principal: the cosmos is composed of magnetic cells within cells with great sheets of electric current flowing at the boundaries. This final section of the exhibit discusses why space physics has important implications for our broader understanding of the universe.

Electric Space has been supported locally by FPL

Museum of Discovery and Science / Blockbuster IMAX Theater - 401 SW 2nd Street, Fort Lauderdale FL 33312. Phone 954-467-6637
Museum of discovery and Science, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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