Powers of Ten - A Powerful New Eames Exhibit at
The California Academy of Sciences
Exhibit Opens June 29, 2002 & Celebrates the 25th Anniversary
of Charles and Ray Eames' Powers of Ten film
San Francisco (June 29, 2002) - Come visit a place where the farthest
reaches of the Universe and the familiar features of your own back yard
are just a few steps - and a few zeros - apart. Powers of Ten, an exhibit
based on the landmark film by Charles and Ray Eames, will bring this exponential
journey through time and space to the California Academy of Sciences from
June 29, 2002 - January 5, 2003.
"I am excited that the Academy is able to offer this opportunity
for visitors to learn about scale," says Academy Curator and Executive
Director Patrick Kociolek, "since our understanding of the most massive
and miniscule things around us is often critical to the health of our
planet, our communities, and our bodies."
For those of you who don't know a picometer from a pickle or a fermi from
a fern, Powers of Ten may take a little explaining. Charles and Ray Eames
produced the Powers of Ten film in 1977 as part of an ongoing effort to
make science and technology more interesting and accessible to the public.
In nine minutes, the film - now the centerpiece of the Powers of Ten exhibit
- takes its viewers on a voyage from a picnic in Chicago to the edge of
the Universe, zooming out to cover ten times as much space every ten seconds.
Then the camera returns to the picnicker, narrowing in on his hand by
powers of ten until it focuses on a tiny quark within one of his cells.
Along the way, viewers learn not only about exponential growth and the
appropriate units to define it, but also about the many ways in which
questions of scale can enhance their understanding of the world around
and within them. This idea is at the core of the Powers of Ten exhibit,
which was created by the grandson of the famous design duo, Eames Demetrios.
"Scale is like geography," Demetrios explains. "If you
don't know where Afghanistan is when you hear it mentioned in the news,
you won't have a place to hang it in your mind. Numbers are the same.
Anthrax is measured in microns; pesticide residues are reported in parts
per billion. These numbers are important to our lives - we should be able
to understand what they mean."
Using a series of photographs, the Powers of Ten exhibit examines both
the surroundings and the composition of the Chicago picnicker from 44
different powers of ten, beginning with 1026 meters (the size of the known
Universe) and ending at 10-18 meters (the size of the smallest known subatomic
particles). At one extreme, a panel that measures one square meter in
size depicts a scene that is 100,000 times larger than the Milky Way galaxy.
At the other, the panel is filled with a single quark - a particle so
tiny that it would take over 100 trillion of them to stretch the width
of the average human hair.
In addition to the photographs, each power of ten station features text,
video feed, or objects from the Academy's vast research collections that
represent some of the knowledge scientists have gained by investigating
at that particular power of ten scale.
For instance, at the 1025 station (the scale of a billion light years),
visitors will be able to touch a 4 billion year old meteorite from the
Academy's collections - the type of specimen researchers have used to
learn about the creation of the Universe. Down at 10-14, the curious can
examine specimens that have been dated using the radioactive isotope dating
method, a system that relies on an understanding of the atomic structure.
In between lies an interactive playground of visual and mental stimuli
that is sure to inspire a sense of wonder in visitors of all sizes.
The Academy will offer several special programs and events in association
with the Powers of Ten exhibit. Additionally, a special kids' area will
be set up with video links to the main exhibit, where children can draw
and post pictures of the things they associate with different powers of
ten scales. For more information, visit our Web site at www.calacademy.org.
Editors please note: images available upon request.
[The California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium
and the Academy's logo are registered trademarks of the California Academy
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