Today's Hours: 
10am - 5pm
Today's Hours: 
CLOSED
Today's Hours: 
CLOSED
Today's Hours: 
10am - 5pm
Today's Hours: 
10am - 5pm
Today's Hours: 
10am - 5pm
Today's Hours: 
10am - 5pm

COSI is now closed

From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

"Collaboration makes the world go 'round"

Written by Paul Sutter on Monday, 16 May 2016. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

A few weeks ago I had the distinct honor and privilege of watching the hard work of a unique collaboration finally come to life. No, I'm not talking about Song of the Stars - I've already talked about that enough! - but a joint project between OSU and COSI. This particular project involved two of my physics undergraduate students, Grace Calhoun and Anna Voelker, working with Ty Owen and the rest of the planetarium staff to create a one-of-a-kind show that premiered at the last Family Friday Night.

The show was a hit, and we're working now to transform it into a regular feature. The collaboration itself served as a test; to explore the ways we can merge the skills and talents available within the OSU Physics Department with the skills and talents available within the COSI Theaters team. What they accomplished together can serve as a model for many other collaborations. OSU presents an incredible amount of untapped resources, from senior faculty to graduate and undergraduate students, many of whom would love the chance to create outreach opportunities through COSI. And my unique joint appointment allows both institutions to develop and strengthen those natural connections - if you're interested in knowing more, just ask me!

"The Moon, I'm Over It"

Written by Paul Sutter on Tuesday, 10 May 2016. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

The moon. Huh. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

At least, not any more.

Before I really get going, let's take a moment and appreciate how special our moon is. Look at all the other inner planets. How many moons does Mercury have? Zero. Venus? Nada. Mars? Two, but come on, they're just rinky-dink captured asteroids and don't count for nothing.

But Earth? A big fat moon, a whopping 27% of the width of our planet! You don't get a moon like that by accident. No, wait, that's exactly how you get one: models suggest that in the early solar system a Mars-sized planetoid slammed into a baby Earth, tearing a chunk out of it and making our gorgeously big satellite.

Back in the day, our moon served as the Earth's galactic goalkeeper. See all those giant craters on the surface? Be glad all that space stuff slammed over there instead of over here. But nowadays the solar system is much quieter, and the need for an orbiting defense platform isn't so urgent.

Take away the moon, and what would happen? The tides - a very visible reminder of the weak but relentless tug of gravity - would get cut in half (the other half comes from the sun). The interaction of the Earth and the moon via the tides also causes something imperceptible: over millions of years, the moon steadily moves further away while the Earth's spin slows. After eons the Earth would be tidally locked - one side permanently facing our satellite. So take away the moon and that problem sorts itself out.

Oh, yeah, and no more eclipses, which would be a bummer.

"Song of the Stars"

Written by Paul Sutter on Monday, 09 May 2016. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

You *may* have noticed or heard recently about "Song of the Stars". If you're still wondering what it was all about it, well then this message is for you. It was an experiment, really, to find new ways to communicate science. And not just communicate science to people who already like science, but to create an opportunity to share science with the not-so-fan-of-science crowd. In this case, with the very-much-fan-of-dance crowd.

The goal was simple: to tell the life stories of the stars with episodes brought to life through contemporary dance. By humanizing science - by giving drama and emotional weight to physical processes - we hoped to engage audiences in new ways and get them curious about the way the universe worked. To get them to understand and intuit phenomena that usually require hours of powering through arcane mathematics and jargon-filled texts. To get people to *enjoy* astrophysics.

I'm happy to report that our premiere at the Capitol Theatre a week ago was a success. Everything came together perfectly, from the choreography to the music to the stage direction to the lighting. When people came up to me after the performance and told me they cried in one episode or had chills in another, shortly after learning something new, I knew we had pulled it off.

Even though the live production has wrapped, we're not done yet, and COSI is playing a big role in the next phase: we're shooting the dances with specialized 360-degree cameras, and our very own Ty Owen will be creating a fulldome planetarium film for worldwide distribution. Astronomy plus dance, presented in an innovative immersive environment. Stay tuned!

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