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Bologna fair plunges visitors into extreme science

Large Hadron Collider, space station, Nemo neutrino hunter shown

04 February, 17:13
Bologna fair plunges visitors into extreme science (ANSA) - Bologna, February 4 - Bologna's "Art and Science in the Piazza" fair has kicked off with exhibits that whisk visitors off on voyages into extreme science, and laboratories where they can experiment with kitchen chemistry or test neurological frontiers for controlling machines. It also celebrates the dialogue between contemporary art and science through exhibits and talks.

The exhibit, "Extreme: the Machines of Knowledge", launches visitors through the tunnel of the largest, most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva; takes them for a visit inside the International Space Station, and plunges them into ocean abysses with the neutrino-capturing Nemo experiment. The multimedia and largely video exhibit by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics explains the extraordinary machines created by physicists to investigate the universe beyond our senses, from the most hidden details of our anatomy to the principles behind splitting the tiniest, most basic components of matter.

The exhibit "Crystal Giants" sweeps visitors into the Naica grotto in Mexico, the infernal depths of a silver mine in which the world's largest crystals were discovered. The lethal environment in which they developed required developing sophisticated technology to permit exploration. The Naica crystals have proven critical to discoveries about ancient climates and plants, minerals, and the origins of life. The Naica grotto is destined to be lost within a few years due to waters rising in the wake of nearly exhausted silver deposits.

Another exhibit, subtitled, "Voyage in the Third Dimension" explores the nature of stereoscopic vision, optical illusions and technologies for simulating three-dimensional environments. Visitors experience 3D reproductions of volcanic explosions, outer space and exotic landscapes, but also travel in history to other eras, like the front line in World War I.

Meanwhile, a neuroscience laboratory called "Incorporating the Artificial" challenges visitors test their capacity to control robots and other electronics, taking part in real experiments in cognition and neuroscience. Visitors learn about memory, language, and other mental processes, as well as how the body perceives space and heat, and how one could "feel" as well as control artificial limbs.

The fair is taking place in a cluster of different venues, starting from the START-Laboratory in Piazza Re Enzo, and runs through February 13.

photo: primordial matter created by Large Hadron Collider