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Friday, October 27, 2017

Museum of Science and Industry

I don't want to give it all away, but there is lots to see at the Museum of Science and Industry if you've never been, including things which have a questionable scientific purpose like these penguins dressed up to go to the masked ball.

Every time Wayne goes he must pay extra to tour the submarine and experience how the crew lived and worked. 

The 252 foot long German submarine was captured in 1944 and there are exhibits which tell the thrilling tale and about the intelligence that was able to be learned from the vessel while keeping the news of its capture hidden.

Exhibits surrounding the submarine detail many of the artifacts, and the stories of the crew.

By 1946 the Navy no longer needed the sub and planned to use it for target practice.  But the retired captain of the ship that captured the sub, Dan Gallery, was a Chicago native and along with the Museum they lobbied to make Chicago its home.  The Navy finally agreed to let them have it, with the Museum, the City of Chicago and other private groups raising $250,000 to repair, move and install the sub as an exhibit.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to see the U505 towed by tugboat into Chicago? Or see it hauled up onto shore outside the Museum of Science and Industry?

Until 2004 the submarine exhibit was outdoors and millions of visitors, including Wayne and I, toured it there.  The new indoor exhibit is pretty amazing, and there is a video that does a time lapse of how they prepared and moved it to its new location.

There were also displays about the roles women played in the war, always nice to see.  Of course so much has changed since then and it's good to reflect on that and on what still needs to be accomplished.

Tom and Wayne try to experience sub maneuvers through a simulator exhibit

There is more to see than the submarine though, I was particularly moved by the information about the Doomsday Clock.  Not since the testing of nuclear bombs in the 1950's has this panel of scientists been so concerned about the fate of humanity on our planet.

From their website: In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned: “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.” In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way. 

I was also moved by the display on the 10 letters a day Obama read from citizens, and how they strengthened his resolve to act on issues.  Did you know that historians rate the U.S. Presidents? President Obama was ranked the 12th best president, due to his "moral authority", economic management and public persuasion, which was wonderful to hear.  He would have ranked higher if his relationship with Congress had not been so thorny.  A quick recap of the top ten:

1. Abraham Lincoln 
2. George Washington
3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
4. Teddy Roosevelt
5. Dwight Eisenhower
6. Harry Truman
7. Thomas Jefferson
8. John F. Kennedy
9. Ronald Reagan
10. Lyndon Johnson

President Clinton came in at #15 and George W. Bush at #33...I know where I would place Trump but we will have to wait and see what the historians have to say when the time comes.

Transportation is a big part of the MSI, with airplanes and actual trains on exhibit.

On May 26, 1934, a gleaming new train named for a Greek god of wind began a nonstop "Dawn to Dusk" speed run from Denver to Chicago. The Zephyr completed the trip in just over 13 hours, ushering in a new height of train travel and style. Its sleek Art Deco form was soon to be mirrored in everyday items from transportation to toasters.

 Every time we've been to the museum we didn't get to board the Zephyr and this time was no exception as the on-board portion of the exhibit was closed for remodeling.  Maybe someday!