This weekend saw my first visit to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (which is within walking distance of my apartment), and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with what I saw – not least by the fact that it was clear that I didn’t even manage to see a fraction of what it has to offer in the few hours I was there. Of what I did see, I was especially impressed by the ‘Science Storms’ exhibit, a highly interactive exploration of the science behind natural phenomena such as lightning, tornados and tsunamis. One highlight was the ‘Avalanche Disk’. This is a massive, slanted, rotating disk with granular material – a mixture of white glass beads and red garnet sand – piled on top. As the disk spins, the grains are lifted to the top and avalanche down its face. Visitors can vary the speed of rotation, which changes how the system behaves. It’s quite hypnotic to watch.
Perhaps some of the more landslide/debris flow oriented amongst my readers will be able to provide a more detailed interpretation of what’s happening in my video.