Last week Edward asked to go to the Powerhouse Museum, which if I had to categorise it, I'd say is a museum of technology, science, decorative arts and design. So today we made the trek to Ultimo and met up with Ben and Lauren and Edward's cousins Thomas and Eloise.
The Zero-G simulator is comprised of a stationary platform upon which the astronauts (kids) stand surrounded by a cylindrical shaped mockup of the inside of a space station. The cylinder slowly rotates to simlulate a space like experience. To the astronauts, nothing much seems to be happening, but when you walk out onto "earth" again, it is quite disorientating. Thankfully there is a rest area, which I suggest you use.
Apart from these obvious novelties, they had some great fun in the Experimentations area which displays pratical examples of some of the fundamental physics of electricity, light, and magnetism. In this pic, Edward is using a hand cranked generator to power a toy electric train and send it around a small track in the enclosure.
I know that when Ed said last week that he wanted to go to the Powerhouse Museum, he had in his mind seeing the steam engines on display. The museum includes on permanent display Locomotive No. 1, which was the first steam locomotive in Australia. Made in England by the Stephenson works, it was transported to Australia by ship and put into use in 1855. I see from the nameplate data, that it was in fact No. 958, as far as they were concerned.
There is also an engine built in 1882, Locomotive No. 1243 on display and Edward was able to stand on the footplate and operate a few controls. the display is interactive, and as buttons are pressed the voice of a driver or fireman explain the workings.
The Powerhouse Museum is well set up to light the imagination of children, and as you can see has lots of things for them to do, see, and in which to be invovolved.
But there's also rareities to interest military historians like me.
This enigma machine is part of an exhibition, and was used to create coded messages by the German Army in World War II.
Breaking the codes made by these machines was a turning point of World War II.
There are two other known specimins of these machines in Australia. One is held by the Australian War Memorial, and one held by the government information security (cryptological) agency Defence Signals Directorate; although both are owned by DSD.
To see inside an Enigma machine, you can check this series of photographs (not from the Powerhouse Museum)
The children all enjoyed taking a break in the courtyard cafe which has some state of the art play and climbing activites, including this giant climbing frame which can be enjoyed by kids of all ages, including this 40ish man who could not resist climbing to the top.
I managed to control the climbing impulse.
Now, it wouldn't be a visit to a museum if we didn't manage to find an error in a curatorial plaque, and here's the result from today.
There's a display about the work of violin maker William Auchterlonie (perhaps part of the famous golfing family?) and the plaque says that," This page is open to 1924, the year the violin on display was made."
But it is clearly a page from 1934.
Edward asked to return to the Zero-gravity simulator, and the engine Locomotive No. 1243 - so I guess they must be the best things in the museum today.