Physics is interesting, physics is useful, physics is fun, physics is important. If you have ever felt like this is not true, we might prove you wrong. As a part of our Term E experience (where we have 3 weeks to experience the learning in an experiential and practical way) we have been in the Physics labs, we have decided that after long hours of conducting and writing about our experiments, it would be a good idea to see Physics from a different point of view by visiting a Technical museum in Vienna.
Technical Museum (Technisches Museum Wien) offers extraordinary insights into the world of technology. The unique exhibits, from the past to the future, makes the museum a showplace for exciting technological developments. Multimedia presentations illuminate the influence of technological achievements on our society, economy and culture. Visitors experience the extraordinary world of technology.
In the exhibit you can see the high-voltage demonstration: A singing Tesla coil creates extremely high voltages that form lightning bolts. These discharges fulfil a very special function: they play music. The electricity in the discharge is controlled in such a way that the lightning itself becomes a speaker. Normally we only hear crackling, but the singing Tesla coil makes music. The repertoire ranges from “The Blue Danube” to “Smoke on the Water”.
At the famous „Schnittlok“. This steam locomotive conveyed passengers through Austria almost 100 years ago. Today it stands in the Museum of Technology and offers insights into the interior of a steam locomotive. As well you can see the creation of the electricity from various sources such as Hydrogen (splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is an energy-intensive process), or by potential energy storage (Once raised into a certain elevation, a large chunk of rock is capable of storing a whole load of potential energy. Gravity storage power plants are still the subject of research.) Video here. Several other technological treats and regular special exhibits make a museum visit an extraordinary experience for visitors both young and old.
Here are the perspectives of students:
As a proper Praguer, I was not that much amazed by historical buildings of Vienna, although this Friday was my first trip there. However, Vienna astonished me by the main destination of ours, the Technical Museum. I could spend days in this heavily interactive heaven of physics and engineering enthusiasts. What I have stuck in my head from the museum are surprisingly shoes. But not the usual boring shoes everybody wears and therefore needs to walk. These ones were the coolest gadget of my elementary school times, because – of course – you can ride on them. Stunning. An aeroplane hundred years old, whose engine is apparently right in the view of a pilot I will remember for a long time as well. What exhibit I enjoyed the most was definitely a wheelchair simulator. It helped me a lot in understanding, how hard is it to be in a wheelchair and how fun is it to go down by stairs on it when it is only in the simulator.
Antonín Šámal Y4
Many people imagine museum as a building with a great number of paintings, statues and historical clothes. Many people also find museums boring. The museum in Vienna destroys this stereotype. It offers many interactive activities connected with science. Visitors can play with magnets, discover the secret of pulleys or control a steel factory. The museum is so huge that only on the first floor there were two locomotives and a steel factory and there are four floors. Even it is called the museum, one can find there a modern smart house which has so many inside/outside functionalities that it is almost impossible to try them all. Great collection of historical cars also caught my attention. It was incredible opportunity to see how these vehicles evolved. We could read about their speed limit or how they were made. We spent there around 3 hours but I would bet that we did not manage to see everything. I also enjoy the hot air balloon simulator.
Filip Miháľ, Y3
Where we could see how technology has progressed over the history. From gas turbines, old bicycles and cars which looked more like a stagecoach than a car, through planes and old computers up until modern technology such as space satellites. For me, the most interesting part of the museum was a miniature model of a coal mine where you could see how the whole machinery of ant-like looking miners moved on various lifts and moving belts in order to bring the coal out of the mine. Another very interesting aspect of the museum was a wheel, in which you would like a hamster to try to move a box of apples few meters over the ground just by the strength in your legs.
Alan Marko, Y4