Doodling the traveling exhibit

Throughout the tour, I’ll be posting some simplified sketches of our traveling exhibit to demonstrate how they work and what we hope visitors will get out of the experience. It’s another way for me to share some science and give the tour another outlet to connect with people. Here’s the first of them:

To engage visitors in the scientific method, we are using a life-size mystery tube for visitors to play with. Upon first glance, it is exactly what you think it is – a tube with rope ends:
However, once you start playing with it, you’ll notice something odd. The ropes do not respond exactly how you think they will. To illustrate this, I’ve put together a gif below:

Pulling the top rope on the right side moves the opposite rope end but it also eventually pulls in the other two ends. If we pull the bottom rope on the left, it pulls in the slack from the top rope. So what’s going on inside? That’s the big question we ask our visitors.

To aid their thought process, we encourage them to draw out possible models that could explain the observations they saw after manipulating the ropes. Since the tube is fairly large, visitors usually have to work together to understand how the ropes move. During this process, questions are asked, people come together to work on a problem, hypotheses are made and different approaches are used to test the models.

After much deliberation, visitors are always eager to know the answer which we (unfortunately or fortunately) cannot provide them, because frankly, we don’t know. Perimeter Institute has purposely done this to parallel this experience with how science works – we cannot simply open the tube and find the answer inside. Instead, we have to come up with possible models and test them before establishing the best answer(s) to the question. The most important thing to recognize is that it is an ongoing process as we continue to learn more about our surroundings and modifying our models.

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