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Since 1991, audiences at the Carnegie Science Center's Rangos Omnimax Theater have begun their large-screen adventure with a four-minute slide and audio show describing the mechanics of the theater and Imax films.

 This introduction was meant to be temporary--but at a cost of  $100,000 per minute, creating a large-format preview film was beyond the reach of the new facility. Now thanks to funding from the Steel Industry Heritage Corporation and private donors,  Carnegie Science Center will premiere a new eight-minute, $600,000 preview film on January 12. The film was written and directed by Pittsburgher Peter Argentine, based on a concept and visuals developed by CSC's Dennis Bateman and consultant Liz Swartz, who were the "executive" producers" as the film was conceived, shot and edited.  The film focuses on Pittsburgh's past as a steel center (footage was filmed in the Edgar Thompson and Irwin steel mills) and the city’s transformation into a center of the high-tech industry. There's plenty of fabulous footage, including the Three Rivers Regatta, Kennywood Park, the Pittsburgh Zoo, Ohiopyle, and stunning shots of Downtown from unique air and ground vantage points.

 "It's action-packed," says Liz Swartz. "There's a lot that goes on in that eight minutes." Swartz feels the film will be an asset to the science center and Pittsburgh. "It's the kind of movie people will want to come back to see again and again," she says. "It creates a sense of pride in the community and background about the city."


 Simulator. One word that can take you on a thousand journeys.  Ever dream of swooshing down treacherous slopes?  Or bumping and jumping at breakneck speeds through sandy dunes? 

Here’s your chance.  Virtual fun begins aboard Carnegie Science Center’s new “Extreme Sports Simulator.”  Daredevils and would be daredevils take their turn aboard a spacey-looking, fiberglass pod that’s equipped with six bucket seats and a hydraulic system that mimics the motion you see on the screen ahead of you.

From the starting block to the finish line five minutes later, riders are catapulted through real video of high adrenaline adventures, like rides on dune buggies, go-carts, roller coasters and even skis!  If that’s not enough for you, once the simulator is up and running in mid February, Tom Flaherty, director of exhibits and facilities, says they also have the option to run as many as 25 other programs, with names like “Motorcycle Madness,” “Wave Blaster,” “Wild Ice” and “Ocean Flight.”

“The simulator is a great teaching tool to learn about the advanced technologies that are used in this high-tech machine,” says Flaherty.  “We hope riders will leave the simulator with a better understanding of the hydraulics, electronic systems and computer programming required to make this system work.”

Staff educators will be on hand to reveal the science behind the virtual sports programming and demonstrate how the simulator works.  Each ride cost $1.

--Kelly Chapman


 The Stars Tonight­

Virtual Stars Burn Brightly for the Buhl Planetarium

  There’s something new under the dome at the Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium – yet it’s not really under the dome at all. It’s all about the universe around us, but most of it doesn’t exist. It’s rooted in Pittsburgh, but it will travel around the world. It’s – The Stars Tonight.

 The Planetarium has partnered with Pittsburgh-based Commersel Studios to create an innovative and fun way to learn about the cosmos. The Stars Tonight is a web-based, astronomy program that will provide high quality streaming media “on demand” to the Internet community. Brainchild of Planetarium Producer James Hughes and Commersel’s C.W. Kreimer, The Stars Tonight is unlike any science education program on the World Wide Web today.

 Each week, two new five to six minute episodes of The Stars Tonight will be posted to a dedicated web site where viewers can access the new material, peruse the steadily growing archive of segments, or learn more about the show topics through activities, games, and other links.

 The segments are being written and hosted by Planetarium Director John Radzilowicz. The episodes focus equally on astronomical happenings that are easily accessible to the  backyard stargazer and on hot topics in astronomy and space science.

  What’s most original about this new venture is the use of “holo-set” technology to create a computer-generated environment where the host can interact with the virtual surroundings. The virtual sets include “the observatory,” “the classroom,” and “the theater,” among others. Animated globes, black boards, and other props are used and manipulated to aid the narration. In other words, the host is the only “real” thing in the whole production!

 This venture promises a new kind of web presence for Carnegie Science Center. Interested in finding out more? Just point your web browser at www.TheStarsTonight.com and see what the future of Internet learning holds.





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