The future is coming to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

The future is coming to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

offBeat with PHILIP POTEMPA

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Something new

One of my favorite parts of visiting Tomorrowland at Walt Disney's World in Florida when I was growing up was to visit "the home of tomorrow."

Even back then, in 1976, this Disney display offered a glimpse at what a home of tomorrow might look like, while playing up the aspect of how many futuristic inventions, including robots to cook and dust, who allow for increase leisure time.

When I visited Walt Disney's World new theme park EPCOT Center in 1988, I was treated to an updated version of this same display, which I found equally fascinating.

I remember being especially "wowed" by the idea of talking to people via a television screen so each person could be seen as well as heard.

Now, a similar, updated exhibit is arriving closer to home.

Chicago publicist Amy Radostits contacted me last week and asked me to invite my readers to experience the Museum of Science and Industry's newest permanent exhibit, "Fast Forward: Inventing the Future," opening for media previews this Wednesday.

She describes Fast Forward as "an inspiring, curated gallery that showcases cutting-edge technology and innovation from 12 groundbreaking inventors and scientists around the world who are working in agriculture, transportation, entertainment, energy and more. Through video presentations, models and prototypes of actual new inventions, guests will discover what motivates these visionaries, understand their challenges, and experience and interact with their successes."

According to Radostits: "Fast Forward demonstrates that with a spark of inspiration, and hard work, the future of our world can be invented, and the seemingly impossible can become possible."

This new exhibit is included in general admission.

Kathleen McCarthy, director of exhibits and collections at the Museum and curator of Fast Forward, is especially excited about this latest offering.

One of her favorite sections features the innovations of Ryan Genz and Francesca Rosella, founders of CuteCircuit. The inventors are working on clothing that responds to the environment. On display will be their "Galaxy Dress," the world's largest, wearable LED display, which uses a camera to capture the image in front of it and illuminates that image across the gown's flowing skirt.

McCarthy is equally impressed with the contributions of Homaro Cantu, executive chef of Moto restaurant, who is working with NASA on food replication.

Other highlights of this new exhibit include:

* Zeno, a miniature robot that reacts to his audience and environment, speaks to guests, and has a lifelike face that can show emotions.

* The Reactable: an amazing, cutting-edge electronic instrument that can be "played" by multiple people at one time. It features a luminous, multi-touch tabletop.

* The Vertical Farm Model: a towering concept model that demonstrates the idea of urban farming in skyscraper-type buildings. The model is activated by a multi-player game designed to teach guests more about this new urban agriculture.

The Museum of Science and Industry is located at 57th and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. For more information, visit www.msichicago.org.

In celebration of the Museum's 75th Anniversary, all guests can entertain their brains at no charge with free admission to the museum each weekday, Monday through Friday, Sept. 2-30.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at ppotempa@nwitimes.com or 219.852.4327.

celebBirthdays

Socialite and famous (comatose) victim Sunny von Bulow is 76. Comedian-actress Lily Tomlin is 69. Actor Don Stroud is 65. Singer Archie Bell of Archie Bell and the Drells is 64. Singer Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees is 62. Drummer Greg Errico of Sly and the Family Stone is 60. Talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw is 58. Singer Gloria Estefan is 51. Jazz saxophonist Boney James and former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers are 47. Author Alice Sebold ("The Lovely Bones") is 46. Singer-guitarist Grant Lee Phillips ("Gilmore Girls") is 45. Country singer-songwriter Charlie Robison is 44. Basketball star Tim Hardaway is 42. DJ Spigg Nice of Lost Boyz is 38. Actor Ricardo Antonio Chavira ("Desperate Housewives") is 37. Singer J.D. Fortune of INXS is 35. Actor Scott Speedman ("Felicity") is 33. Guitarist Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy is 24.

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