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Strange Matter at the Museum of Science
October 2 , 2004

Visitors explore “Experience Pods” in Strange Matter
at the Museum of Science

BOSTON —At the temporary exhibit Strange Matter opening October 2 at the Museum of Science , visitors can investigate the mysterious world of material science at ten different Experience Pods. Each pod includes interactive exhibits, a micrograph of a close-up look at the material's structure and information on just where to find some of these fascinating materials in your everyday life.

Amorphous Metals
Drop the ball bearings to see which metal plate gives the ball the most bounce. The ball that keeps going and going and going is bouncing on a plate made of Liquidmetal® alloy, a type of amorphous metal and, one of the world's hardest materials. Discover what makes it so hard and how this metal can improve your golf game and help a patient in the operating room.

Memory Metals
Discover the metal that has memory. Nitinol has both shape memory and superelasticity. When heated, this metal “remembers” by returning to its original shape. Test this property by getting a boot to stomp on Nitinol flowers. Then return them to their original shape by blowing heat on them. This amazing metal also bends under pressure but snaps back into shape when pressure is removed – a handy feature for eyeglass frames and orthodontic braces. .

Smash the Glass
Crank up a 16 lb bowling ball and let it fly! Visitors will investigate whether or not heat-tempered glass has the strength to withstand the shock or if the pane of glass will shatter. A counter will allow visitors to keep track of how many times the glass has been hit. Will the glass shatter after 10 hits, 100 or 1000? As part of this experience visitors will also explore the differences between ordinary glass and tempered glass.

Structures and Defects
Are defects always bad? It depends on the properties the materials scientist is trying to create. Play with a sheet of ball bearings and discover how this simple model can be used to investigate the role ‘grain boundaries' play in creating stronger metals.

Amazing Magnetic Liquids
Magnetic liquids are liquids that can respond to magnets – this is done by suspending microscale or nanoscale magnetic particles in fluid. In this area, you can play with both. Using magnets, manipulate a pool of ferrofluid and make it ‘dance.' Or swish your gloved hands around a vat of magneto-rheological fluid and feel it morph from a fluid to solid when you apply a magnetic force. These materials are put to use in many diverse areas, from the operating room to your home entertainment centre or laundry room.

Explore which materials contain elements of foam from beer, bread and spittlebugs to space applications from NASA. Watch an astonishing column of foam grow towards the Science Centre's ceiling and uncover its surprising composition. Feel the foam and learn the functions of a variety of foam samples. Marvel at the lightest material ever made - aerogel - and see its weight balanced by tiny pieces of silca.

If you think crystals are only gemstones, think again! Crystals are in almost every solid from snowflakes to metal pots and pans. Visitors will learn how crystal growth occurs in many types of materials. You can watch the beautiful real-time growth of complex patterns in crystals. See a smaller version of the world's largest crystal.

Touch Table
Younger children can discover materials through hands-on experimentation. Put different materials under the lens of a microscope camera to see how they look magnified larger than life. Play tunes on a wooden xylophone and a xylophone of mixed materials – do similar materials sound the same? Tumble tubes to see how a solid material can flow like a liquid.

Get a look at materials from the macro (or naked-eye) scale down to the nano scale. Intricate structures are revealed. Find out how scientists “feel” atoms using atomic force microscopes. Be the materials scientist and get down to details.

Sand to Supercomputers
Touch the top of a giant, shining column of silicon grown from a "seed" in a lab. Follow the painstaking process through which sand is transformed into the microchips that are now an integral part of so much of modern life. Find out why silicon is the corner stone of materials science.

Strange Matter is presented by the Materials Research Society. This exhibition and its tour are made possible by the generous support of the National Science Foundation, Alcan, Dow, Ford Motor Company Fund, Intel (R) Innovation in Education and the 3M Foundation.

Strange Matter will be on exhibit at the Museum of Science from October 2, 2004 - January 3, 2005 . Admission to the temporary exhibit is included with regular Exhibit Hall admission: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors (60+), and $11 for children (3-11). Exhibit Hall Hours: Saturday – Thursday 9a.m. – 5p.m. ; Friday 9a.m. – 9p.m. For more information, call 617/723-2500; (TTY) 617/589-0417; or visit

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About the Materials Research Society: The Materials Research Society is a not-for-profit scientific association founded in 1973 to promote interdisciplinary goal-oriented research on materials of technological importance. Membership in the Society consists of more than 12,500 scientists from industry, government, academia and research laboratories in the United States and nearly 50 other countries.

For more information, please contact:

Carole McFall
Phone: (617) 589-0257

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Anita B. Miller
Manager, Marketing and Member Services, Materials Research Society

Tel: 724-779-3004 x551
Fax: 724-779-8313

Judith Kays
Marketing Communications Manager
Discovery Centre

Tel: 902-492-4422 x236
Email: judithkays@

Carole McFall
Press Contact
Museum of Science, Boston

Tel: 617-589-0257