Monday my girlfriend and I went to the NEMO science center in Amsterdam. It is a place where you can discover technical and scientific things. From DNA to love and electricity to water.
NEMO is a five story building that looks like a huge boat. At the moment you have to go through a back entrance. There is a lot of construction going on at the moment.
On the first floor there is a chain reaction in the spirit of the Pythagoras Switch Japanese TV show. You can watch this exhibit a few times a day.
There is a lot of difference between the techniques that are shown. On the one side you have low tech: pull yourself up while sitting on a chair, to show to effect of pulleys. With one pulley it’s heavy to pull yourself up, but with three or even five it’s much simpler. On the other side there is high tech, a face recognition Pong, where you can move the paddle by using different emotions (sad, happy, angry, neutral, surprised).
On one of the floors there is a huge ball factory. A part of this machine is automated and part of it is manual labor. It is a game you can play. You need to put balls in order in one place. A touch screen shows that order. In another place you have to use a bar code scanner to check the contents of crates that pass by. This is done with a checksum that you can calculate by adding and multiplying. The machine is cool to look at. It is huge and mostly automatic with cables, switches and controlling hardware showing.
We have done chemical experiments in the chemical lab on the fourth floor. There are twelve experiments to choose from. We only did two experiments, because there were not enough lab coats for the group that came after us.
On the sun roof of the building, you can sit and recharge for a bit after all the things that you can see. It is named after the actor who does the voice of Ernie on the Dutch Sesame Street. He also presented the National Science Quiz every year (which is probably why the roof is named after him).
The whole place is explained in Dutch and English. It is a nice place to spend a day. I can recommend it to everyone.