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Perform simulated laser surgery on a model eyeball.

ZAP!

No need to ask, "Is there a doctor in the house?" at Carnegie Science Center this spring. The new exhibit, Zap! Surgery Beyond the Cutting Edge, makes EVERYONE a doctor! 

Zap! focuses on innovative technologies in todayís cutting-edge surgical procedures. Youíll discover how ultrasonic waves are used to break up those nasty, painful little kidney stones, see gamma rays treating brain disorders, and get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform simulated cryosurgery on a 3-D animated liver. 

Designed by the Carnegie Science Center staff with help from Pittsburgh-area doctors, nurses, bioengineers, and technicians, this 6,000-square-foot exhibit took three years to research, develop, and construct. 

Zap! will be open in two "testing" phases. Phase one, April 14 through June 5, features Endoscope, Gamma Knife and Ultrasound modules. Phase two, June 16 to August 13, has Laser and Cryosurgery modules, Zap Jr. and the ZapCam.

Each module consists of three areas:

  • "Explore It." Where you can experiment with science principles through interactive devices.
  • "Be the Surgeon." Yell "Stat!" loudly and often as you perform a variety of simulated surgical procedures.
  • "Real Stories/Real Surgeries." Where youíll view video clips of actual procedures and hear stories from real doctors, patients, and scientists.

  • If that isnít enough, jump on the ZapCam. This four-minute full motion simulator thrill ride takes you inside the human body as if youíve been miniaturized--kind of an H.G. Wells/Fantastic Voyage experience. Dodge incoming lasers, as you witness these new surgical techniques from inside the body.

    Bring the little ones ages 3 to 6 along to play doctor at Zap Jr. Basic human anatomy and medical technology are explained while the kids put on surgical scrubs and experiment with toy stethoscopes and X-ray images. After the $2 million exhibit is tested, it moves to Clevelandís Great Lakes Science Center for its international grand opening (September 23 through January 2, 2001). There, the exhibition will be reviewed by nearly 2,000 delegates from the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC). This premiere venue puts Zap! Centerstage as science centers worldwide are scouting new exhibits to lease for their own sites. But donít fret, Zap! will return in its entirety to Carnegie Science Center in February 2001, and remain through the yearís end.

    So whether youíre a teen considering a medical career, a kid who thinks blood is "way cool," or an adult who still loves to play "Operation," Zap! Surgery Beyond the Cutting Edge has something for you. 

    Pittsburgh Skies - The Not-So-Grand Alignment

    The Buhl Planetarium & Observatory at Carnegie Science Center continues its 60th anniversary celebration by making the universe a little more accessible to everyone. May and June are excellent months for taking in the sights of the night sky and learning a little more about what can (and canít) be found in the skies above Pittsburgh. So stop by the Planetarium to get the expert scoop on all things astronomical.

    For example, youíve probably heard the latest astronomical "millennial" story that is making the rounds. This is the so-called "Grand Alignment" of planets on May 5. The story goes something like this. On the appointed date, all the planets will "line up" together in the sky in a way that they have not for centuries (or millennia Ė take your pick). The results will be catastrophic for planet Earth.

    Well, donít sell all your belongings just yet. As is often the case, the facts have been a bit muddled. There is no alignment of the planets on May 5. The planets can never actually align. What will happen is a gathering of planets. The five naked-eye planets Ė Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn -will all be "relatively" close to each other as seen from Earth. Close, in this case, means within about twenty-five degrees. Thatís fifty times the width of the full Moon. 

    And speaking of the Moon, it will be present as well. Now that would make an awesome sight in the sky, if not for one problem. The Sun is also part of the gathering. That means that we wonít be able to see the planets at all; they will be lost in the glare of our star! 

    Now, is this unseen event something to fear? Absolutely not. There will be no gravitational effects, or any other kind, that will harm Earth. We can be sure, because weíve been through this kind of gathering lots of times before. The last time was 1962. Thatís right, just 38 years ago. So, donít waste any time worrying about this "once in a millennium" planet gathering, weíll still be here on May 6!

    --John Radzilowicz, director, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory

     
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