Well it’s my last Monday in Cleveland, and I am burning, no, itching (wow, sounds like I’ve contracted a nasty venereal disease) to leave. But, before I can pack my bags and blow this popsicle stand, there’s a lot of work I need to get finished. On the research front, the experiment I’ve been setting up all summer doesn’t seem to work. Damn! After all that set-up and calibration I did (oh, don’t mention the word “calibrate” to me when I get back to Boston, or I just might bite your head off with my sharp fangs), when I tried to back-calculate the coefficient of friction of glass I was off by an order of around a thousand. Hopefully there’s something wrong with my calculations and not the set-up itself, so my boss can use it to do abrasion testing on coatings for solar panels after I leave.
As far as our movie goes, it’s coming along excellently. I’ve pretty much finished editing my segment, now I just need to go back and make it shorter. Then there’re also opening sequences and credits to do. Those are going to be hot. Once the whole shebang is done and up on the internet somewhere I’ll link to it.
Hmmm…let’s see…what else has happened since my last update (which was, I’ll admit, somewhat of a case of verbal diarrhea)? I took a trip to Huntsville, Alabama, which was actually a lot of fun (despite the early start…we woke up at 4:15 am on Thursday in order to be at the airport at 5 am…and that was after coming home to a no power at around midnight). But before I get to Huntsville…
Going back even further, last Wednesday I went to the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland. (The first Body Worlds is currently in Chicago…maybe I’ll get a chance to go see it when I’m there next weekend.) A German scientist named Gunter Von Hagen started a project where his team plasticized hundreds of real human specimens. They have done amazing things, like plasticize just the blood vessels, or just the muscles, or do a cut-away so you can see the muscles, bones, and organs, or they can position the bodies into interesting poses so you can see how the muscles change shape and size when the body flexes them. It also allows you to preserve real organs. In short: it was an amazing exhibit. My favorites were the all blood vessel views…it’s fascinating how dense the blood vessels in the body are. And you can see the places that have the most blood vessels; they also had the same sort of view emphasizing nerves (which are equally fascinating to ponder but not as visually striking). For those of you who are fans of poop, they had the intestines of a woman who died with a massive constipation-induced blockage…it was crazy! One of the most shocking things was when they placed side by side cross-sections of an obese man and a thin man.
After the science museum I went out to an excellent Indian restaurant for dinner…only the second time I’ve had Indian food all summer (the first was when we went to visit Goddard and I sprinted across the parking lot when I saw the “Indian Lunch Buffet” sign...the place wasn’t opened yet, but they let me in early and allowed me to get as much food as I wanted to go…they even gave me a separate container for dessert…mmm…that was so fantastic…).
But back to Huntsville...
We had to leave so early because we were flying to Birmingham (through Cincinnati), and then we had to drive from Birmingham to Huntsville. As far as I can ascertain, that’s the furthest I’ve ever been into the deep south (Florida doesn’t count, right? Also, I was two years old last time I was there…).
During the two days we spent touring Marshall Space Flight Center we met two astronauts, heard about high altitude balloons, saw the Payload Operations Integration Center (where they control all the science that goes on in the ISS and Space Shuttle). We also got to explore the place where they have “Space Camp”, which has some rides and a lot of cool space history stuff. The highlights of the trip, however, were when we ate dinner at Greenbrier, a famous local barbeque restaurant, and when I went running in the dark on top of a mountain around a planetarium. At Greenbrier I ate so much fried food that I ended up feeling drunk. I had fried okra, fried oysters, fried shrimp, fried cornmeal (called “hush puppies”), fried stuffed crab, and even a whole fried catfish. The parts of my meal that weren’t fried were the sweat tea and the cole slaw (called simply “slaw”). Somehow the feelings of euphoria ushered in by the fat and sugar managed to neutralize my stomach’s revolts, so even though I was running with a brick of golden brown breading in my stomach I still felt amazing.
The observatory/planetarium we visited deserves some mention. It was named after Werner VonBraun, who’s somewhat of a legend in Huntsville (and rightly so), and the dome is part of the fuel tank of a prototype Saturn V rocket. Now that’s pretty cool.
Hmmm…what did I do this weekend? I’ll keep it brief: running, reading, Rock Hall, great home cooked meal, more running and reading, lots of video editing, birthday dinner and frozen custard for Marshal, and some sleep.