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Experience Strange Matter!

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Strange Matter is more than just this Web site - you can experience it in person when it comes to a science center near you! Over 50 hands-on experiences and exhibits give you a close encounter with the amazing world of modern materials and materials science.

What is materials science? You could call it the study of stuff! Just about everything you use every day - the shoes you wear, the dishes you eat from, the music you listen to, the bike or skateboard you ride - it's all made of different kinds of stuff. What is Materials Science? explains it in more detail - or you can encounter Strange Matter online with these Fun Activities!

Click here to see when Strange Matter will be coming to a city near you!

"It is one of the most engaging science exhibits I have seen." - Space Center Houston

"This exhibit has exceeded our expectations" - Louisville Science Center

Coming to the exhibition? Here's some of what you'll see when you visit:

Amazing Magnetic Liquids
Want to feel something really weird? Swish your gloved hand around in a vat of magneto-rheological fluid and feel it morph from fluid to solid at the touch of a button. Make a pool of magnetic ferrofluid "dance" and manipulate blobs of ferrofluid with rare-earth magnets. You'll explore the surprising properties of these materials and discover how their unusual micro-structure makes them useful in all kinds of places - from your laundry room to the operating room.

Amorphous Metal
Meet the future of metals. The unusual structure of amorphous metals makes them incredibly hard. Drop one ball bearing on a platform made of amorphous metal and another on a platform made of metal with a normal crystalline atomic structure. The result is astounding: while one ball behaves in an expected fashion, the other bounces for an impossibly long time.

Crystal growth occurs in many types of materials. This exhibit provides the compelling opportunity to watch the beautiful, real-time growth of a crystal's intricate patterns. See a sample of one of the world's largest crystals, along with a dizzying array of smaller crystal examples.

Demo Theater
Through the use of multimedia and live demonstrations, this unique demonstration/lab space brings together many elements of the exhibition. Take part in a facilitated lab experiment and find out how and why you are a materials scientist.

Watch a dramatic column of foam reach for the ceiling. Feel the form and learn the functions of a variety of foam samples. Marvel at the lightest material ever made -aerogel - and see its weight balanced by grains of rice.

Materials Evolution
Could a strand of spider silk actually stop a 747 in flight? What do modern firefighters and medieval knights have in common? This exhibit area will allow you to trace the fascinating and often unexpected development of materials throughout history - from "The Iceman" (3300 BCE) to the present world of the "Material Girl", while discovering which materials have played a key role in human civilization.

Materials Science Overview Video
How does materials science use atoms and molecules to design the "stuff" of our everyday lives? How has it changed human history and how does the performance of materials grow from their structure, properties and processing? In this video, you'll meet materials scientists who bring it all together.

Memory Metals
Bend and twist a Nitinol metal ribbon, a startling example of a metal with a memory, and see it return to its original shape with a little bit of hot air. Why is this metal different from many others, and what can it be used for?

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 microchips, and learn why there's a lot more to silicon than Silicon Valley.

Smash the Glass
Crank up a bowling ball and let it fly - you'll find out if 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 in 10 minutes, 10 hours, 10 days... 10 months?

Structure and Defects
Play with a sheet of ball bearings and discover how this simple model can be used to investigate the secret structures, strengths and weaknesses of metals.

Touch Tables
At our touch tables you can join curious children of all ages in discovering materials through hands-on experimentation. This area offers a variety of experiences involving texture, color, and other properties of materials, and provides an array of instruments to facilitate exploration. "Tumble tubes" offer children the chance to invert columns containing various mixtures, helping them learn about the nature of granular and liquid behavior.

Some things seem smooth to the naked eye, but what if you could get a much closer look? Zoom from the macro to the nano scale and find out how scientists "feel atoms" using Atomic Force Microscopes.

You can encounter Strange Matter online with these Fun Activities!