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| Last Updated:14/08/2019

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Science made simpler on a sphere (Source: The Hindu 22.02.2019)



Spherical display system at science museum simplifies earth-related processes

  When an earthquake of magnitude 9.1 struck off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004, it generated a tsunami that killed over 2.25 lakh people across countries. Videos and photographs of waves, up to 100 ft high in some areas, wiping out everything in their path recall the scale of devastation. But what if one could see animated images of the tsunami waves travelling across the Indian Ocean to wreak havoc in countries.


             This is made possible by Science on a Sphere (SOS), a spherical display system developed by the U.S. scientific agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and installed at the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM) at PMG here to help people understand earth-related scientific processes better.


           The SOS is an educational tool in which real-time planetary or space data are transformed into visual images and shown on a suspended globe rather than a flat screen.


How it works


        Computers and projectors are used to project animated images of climate change, atmospheric storms, ocean temperature, earth’s geology, or space on the sphere. The illusion is of the Earth rotating on its axis as one watches from space. Complex processes can thus be visualised in a simple format, be it air traffic movement across the earth or how the outer space appears from the Milky Way.


            The SOS includes a 68-inch carbon fibre sphere suspended from the ceiling and held in place with an invisible suspension system. Four video projectors are positioned at 90 degree increments around the sphere, which act as the screen. Each projector is responsible for one quadrant of screen space and projects images seamlessly. So, unlike a photograph or even a video, this can help one visualize the famed Olympus Mons or the polar ice caps on Mars, understand how clouds form and move with the wind or how vulnerable the Indonesian region is to earthquakes. Using the SOS datasets, which are divided into categories and come from various organisations, a vast number of shows can be projected.


          The SOS has been set up at a cost of ₹1.5 crore. With a seating capacity of 70 and powered by 5,400 lumens high-resolution LED/laser projectors, it will be one of the largest of its kind in the country, according to the KSSTM. Tickets will be priced at ₹20 for children and ₹30 for adults. Minister for Higher Education K.T. Jaleel will inaugurate the SOS on February 26.