New Exhibit Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists Pulls Visitors to Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory’s latest traveling exhibit, Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists, opens January 18.  Produced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, this interactive display reveals what we know, don’t know, and think we know about one of the great space mysteries.

Black holes are regions in space with gravity so powerful that light can’t escape, and where time and space are warped in unimaginable ways. But if black holes don’t emit light and can’t physically be seen, how do scientists know anything about them?

The exhibit will guide visitors on a journey to the edge of these strange phenomena to discover how the latest research is turning science fiction into fact, challenging our notions of space and time in the process.  “I am so excited for Lowell to be hosting this exhibit,” said Lowell Curator Samantha Thompson.  “Our visitors will have the rare opportunity to learn about the nature of black holes in a fun, interactive environment.”

The exhibit is designed like a space mission; visitors are first briefed then sent out to search for evidence of real black holes in our universe. Through a number of stations, a visitor will observe the peculiar properties of black holes, their amazing journey from theory to fact, and some common—and entertaining—misconceptions. A variety of interactive components will give visitors an in-depth experience of how black holes behave, shape our universe, and influence our lives.

Stations address a number of questions, such as:

* What is a black hole?

* Where are black holes?

* How do we find black holes if they are really black?

* What would happen if you fell into a black hole?

Before beginning the journey, visitors are given a Black Holes Explorer’s ID Card. The card collects observations, discoveries, conclusions, questions, notes and even photos as the visitor moves from station to station. Once visitors leave the Discovery Center, they she can use their unique card to generate a personalized website only they can access – a kind of personal observer’s log with additional resources to explore.

Black Holes: Space Warps and Time Twists is funded by a generous grant from the National Science Foundation with additional major support from NASA.  The tour is managed by the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

The exhibit will be on display at Lowell Observatory though May 4, 2014 and is included with regular admission.

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