Museum of Science Opens the Hall of Human Life Exhibit Today

Museum of Science Opens the Hall of Human Life Exhibit Today

As soon as you step inside the Hall of Human Life, opening at the Museum of Science, Boston today, November 16, 2013, powerfully interactive environments will take you on a journey inside your own body to unravel the mysteries of human biology. From testing your balance or ability to handle distraction to trying to recognize faces, you will be amazed at the discoveries you make, as you create your own evolving profile from hands-on experiences that are entertaining and fun.

Ever wonder what makes you hungry or keeps you awake? How efficiently you walk or how a gene works? In delightful, often whole body, experiences, you will exercise your brain, involving your eyes and ears, your hands, and even your feet, as you interact with the Hall of Human Life in an unending process of discovery.

Spanning 70 exhibit elements, the Hall of Human Life will revolutionize how you engage with your own biology, understand your body, and manage your health. Designed to change with accelerating breakthroughs in biology and biotechnology, this transformative 10,000-square-foot exhibition will ignite your curiosity about innovations from the frontlines of health, medicine, and the life sciences and help you develop thinking skills to make informed choices. You will face intriguing, at times profound, questions such as: Is texting changing my brain? Should I get my baby's DNA sequenced? What triggers aggression?

Entering portals into the Hall of Human Life through a giant pulsing "membrane," you take a wristband encoded with your own anonymous I.D. number. At interactive stations throughout the exhibition, you will answer thought-provoking questions and take 15 unique personal measurements that will become central to the exhibition's stories and part of a larger Museum database of visitor experiences online. Exploring this information with innovative data visualization tools will reveal new insight that may change how you look at yourself and others.

"We aim to address misconceptions and inspire you, as you discover new things about yourself and have fun comparing your data with friends and family," says Hall of Human Life manager Elizabeth Kong. "You will feel the excitement of science, exploring how your body works by asking 'How do you know?' questions, and adding your experiences to our unique experiment. We also want to help you navigate the tidal wave of information on health and biology and encourage you to ask more questions. If you wonder about super bugs, for example, you can find out how antibiotics work and how to understand antibiotic resistance. You will also learn that we need some microbes to survive."

Make Discoveries in Dynamic Multisensory Environments

In five distinct inquiry areas, anchored by displays introducing Food, Organisms, Physical Forces, Time, and Communities, you will investigate through interactive experiences how forces in each of these "environments" change us biologically, how we change them, and how those changes can shape the future of our species. You will learn that our individual physiological changes today can affect populations over generations and that people with inherited genes that worked well for ancestors could develop problems today such as diabetes or hypertension.

Throughout your journey, you will use your own body to understand biological mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level, manipulating hands-on models. Compelling 3-D animation and interactives will relate genetics to daily life. You will also be able to access research on health conditions that have increased dramatically in response to today's environment: hypertension, cancer, antibiotic resistance, major depression, and Type 2 diabetes.

Joining the Hall of Human Life community of researchers, clinicians, educators, and visitors, you will help answer questions scientists are researching today. For example, your measurements may offer evidence of inherited genes that control our appetites today or offer clues as to why allergies are on the increase. You can help researchers understand why living in a heated environment might change our biology or allow us to explore how changing demographics in the United States alter how our brains remember faces, and much more.

You will likely encounter surprises along the way. Highlights include:

Standing in front of the Body Mirror in Organisms, you will be amazed at the trillions of microbes that actually live on your body. At Anatomy of a Sneeze, if you put a fist full of pollen up a giant nose, you can see what really happens when you inhale an allergen.

In Food, after discovering what 2,000 calories looks like measured in ceiling-high tubes of grapes, cupcakes, hotdogs, and carrots, you can walk down a 20-foot-long runway and find out how few calories in grapes you actually burn.

Operating a robot arm at the control panel in Physical Forces, you will see that the artificial blue light that helps astronauts stay alert on the International Space Station can affect you too.

In Time, as you use your whole body to move a virtual ball through a maze, you will find out how the ability to balance can differ from person to person and change with age. If you wonder who multitasks better men or women you can see how well you perform in a computer game when distracted and why some people multitask better than others.

In Communities you will even learn how your friends can change your brain.

Unlock Cellular and Evolutionary Secrets in Other Learning Spaces

At the heart of the exhibition in the Exploration Hub, you can watch the dissection of a sheep's lung and then test how much air you can blow out of your lungs, guided by Museum educators who can also answer questions and talk with you about your data. In the Living Laboratory, you can become a subject in an authentic scientific study and have the opportunity to discuss your experience with a researcher.

Grappling with questions about life and health in the Provocative Questions area, you will discover how your personal experience, social values, and scientific evidence can help you build arguments on issues that science can inform but not answer. The first question is: "Should parents know the full genome of their future or newborn child?" New questions will be introduced every six months.

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