Traveling to the furthest star, and plumbing ocean depths

Thessaloniki – A giant round ball on the hill of Thermi, the Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum’s planetarium will soon be inviting its first technology buffs to embark on its voyages into science and space through its virtual-reality simulator and large-format theater. The ultra-modern building that houses the center is ready and will open its doors at the end of this month to take up its role as a purveyor of scientific and technological knowledge. Built in record time (by Greek standards at least), this offshoot of the Technology Museum of Thessaloniki aims to combine education and recreation for both adults and children. Through projections and exhibitions, visitors will be able to roam the universe, understand planetary phenomena, look up information in the CD-ROM library among hundreds of available titles, and have direct Internet access to technology, dating from ancient Greece to the modern age. The building complex covers 15,000 square meters on a total plot of 5 hectares ceded by the Municipality of Thermi. A deliberate choice was made to put most of it underground, the president of the center’s board of directors, Professor Athanassios Tsaftaris, told Kathimerini, both to reduce the environmental impact and to highlight the planetarium, which is expected to become eastern Thessaloniki’s major landmark. It is the ultra-modern spherical building that will receive the first visitors to the center. Equipped with a digital all-dome video projection system (including laser array alignment units), the planetarium consists of a true dome 25 meters in diameter with a hemispherical interior screen 18 meters across. One-hundred-and-eighty tilted seats enable visitors to gaze upward and see the re-enactment of celestial and natural phenomena. The Large-Format Theater, due to open at the same time, will screen large-format films on science and the environment using high-definition stereoscopic images. At the same time, the Motion Simulator (including three motion-based platforms) will take visitors on voyages of discovery into space or to the depths of the ocean. In this small auditorium, visitors will experience a spaceship launch, walk on the moon, admire the Earth from on high and discover hidden aspects of the universe. The rest of the building, made of glass, metal and cement, covers three floors. Apart from a conference center with seating for 200, a large area, 7,000 square meters in size, is ready to receive the exhibits of the Thessaloniki Technological Museum, which will gradually expand to form three permanent exhibitions on the evolution of technology. Technology The Ancient Greek Technology section will inform visitors of the most important inventions of the ancient world. The exhibition includes 100 reproductions of machinery and inventions by ancient Greeks, among them the Antikythera Mechanism, Archimedes’ Screw, Hero’s Odometer, the Byzantine clock and others. The second exhibition, which deals with transport technology, includes the first car to be manufactured in Greece (1974), cars made in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, and also cars that use new technology – such as electronic or hybrid vehicles – while the third exhibition will focus on the history of images and signals. Also of interest is the Techno-Park, whose interactive exhibits on scientific laws and the human body will invite visitors’ active participation, in a way that promises to be creative, informative, educational – and fun.