Seeing the light and bugs

October 01, 1994|By Kim Wesley | Kim Wesley,Contributing Writer

Ever watch fireflies outside on a summer night and wonder if lightning bugs program their glows to make a pattern? Ever look at your Visa card and wonder how the people who make holograms got that neat 3-D image to move around on the plastic?

Two new exhibits at the Maryland Science Center, "Bug's Eye View" and "Light Dreams," fire the imagination of nature lovers, science lovers and the just plain curious.

Walk around "Bug's Eye View" and you feel like you're inside a 10-foot-high grass jungle with larger-than-life flies, bees and ants. Turn a crank and see how a dragonfly moves its wings. Everywhere you turn, there's a fascinating tarantula, a giant flea or some other creepy crawler.

"The exhibit specimens give you a chance to be up close with insects that you couldn't get close to in real life," says Charlene Cross, Senior Exhibits Specialist at the Science Center. "It gives you the chance to see how they eat, how they camouflage themselves. Bugs have an amazing ability to adapt to changes. They're the most successful life form on Earth."

Around the corner from the bugs, visitors step out of the grass jungle and into the world of holography. A picture of a vampire practically lunges out from a frame on the wall. As you walk around it, you see that the vampire goes from lying in his coffin to sitting up to bearing his fangs.

Holography re-creates a pattern of light, "just like a tape recorder records a pattern of sound," says holographic artist Doug Tyler.

Made up of holograms large and small, from credit-card security holograms to displays of Michael Jordan and Marilyn Monroe, the "Light Dreams" exhibit combines art, pop culture and technology. Panels on the wall explain how holographs are made -- using a series of lasers, lenses and light. Mr. Tyler says holograms are like what the first television sets were to people in the '50s.

"For young people, holography is like rock and roll -- it's part of their world," he says. Holography is "a leading-edge technology . . . and no videotape, no photograph can reproduce the experience of seeing it in person," says Mr. Tyler of Dimensional Imaging Consultants in Niles, Mich., which was hired by the Science Center to create the "Light Dreams" exhibit.

The traveling "Bug's Eye View" exhibit came to Baltimore from the Oregon Museum of Science Industries.

SCIENCE CENTER EXHIBITS

What: "Bug's Eye View" and "Light Dreams"

When: Through Jan. 2; "Light Dreams," through March 26. Science Center hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cost: $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for children 4-17, seniors and military personnel; children under 4, free

Call: (410) 685-5225

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