Saturday, 31 January 2015

National Science Center Kopernik

A few months ago my cousin Ralph has taken you to the planetarium that is a part of the National Science Center Kopernik in Warsaw. I have promised you then to take you there again. It is time to fulfill this promise. All those who suddenly forgot who was Mikołaj Kopernik (aka Copernicus) should quickly take a look back to our recent trip to Olsztyn.

The Kopernic Center is unique in Poland. Everybody wants to visit it which means long queues at the entry. If you want to visit it at a specific date always remember to book your tickets on-line upfront.

Next to the entry we can meet again the robot that Ralph has presented you. Any guesses about the mood he can be today?

The Kopernik Center is so modern that they do not distribute old-fashion paper tickets. They give visitors magnetic cards that later allow to access some additional attractions.

Just behind the main entry we will find the Foucault pendulum. It is the simplest tool developed so far to demonstrate that Earth rotates.

The Kopernik Center has very many topical exhibitions and installations. Presenting all of them in one story would be too much. Therefore I have chosen for you a few topics that I have found particularly interesting.

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First we will start with the four elements. In the Kopernik Center you can learn a lot about water and its physical properties. There are a lot of strange devices that show you the way water flows. The best thing is that visitors are allowed to touch all of them!

Let's move to wind and air. Here you can see and feel it yourself. Hold on!

Be careful, here comes a fire tornado! This is obviously one of few items in the Kopernik Center that visitors cannot touch. When I was visiting the center a big group of 4-year old kids was running in all directions. I am pretty sure they would be ready to give the tornado a try if they were only able.

The section about Earth was devoted to archeology. If you have a moment you can sit here, put on these special glasses and try to decipher yourself the famous Rosetta Stone.

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The second exhibition that I have liked a lot was about sound. It was possible to see closely some classical instruments like this violin.

But it was also possible to touch and play some very modern ones, like this harp. You think it is broken since it has no strings? Well, you are wrong. It has invisible strings, laser ones. Feels a bit like Star Trek, isn't it?

The Kopernik Center is also offering some workshops about selected topics. During those dedicated to sound it was possible to actually touch the sound made by a glovophone ...

... and even to see the sound! The vibrations made by the drum moved the buckwheat lying on top of the thin film.

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Last but not least, I have liked the Bzzzz gallery, devoted to animals.

It is possible to see there paths of different animals, to learn some interesting facts about them. But it is also possible to literally look through their eyes, to see the way in which the sight of a particular species differs from human one.

It is also possible to smell different wild animals and their natural environment.

Just before we leave we can admire this huge bubble made out of water and soap.

In summer time I would take you as well for a walk on the bank of the Vistula river. But it is far too cold and cloudy to enjoy it.

So let's finish our visit in the wonderful science store. You can look for some games and I will buy a few postcards.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Illumination of the Royal Route in Warsaw (2015) - Łazienki Park

It has become a little tradition that every year I show you on this blog the illumination of the Royal Route in Warsaw. Last year we were at its Southern end in Wilanów, two years age at the Northern end in the Old Town, and three years ago - in the Łazienki Park that lies more or less in the middle.

This year, I decided to check what has changed in the Illumination in and around Łazienki Park over those past three years.

Let's enter the so-called Chinese alley from the South. The entrance itself is already inviting.

The Chinese alley is populated this year by beautiful ladies and some elegant gentlemen. This one looks very classy, don't you think?

This lady reminds me of Mary Poppins - do you think she could fly on this umbrella?

This couple seems to take a walk in the park despite the cold.

And this one is just standing there and watching all the visitors passing by.

The park itself is not illuminated and if fact it is quite dark. Luckily they have put some lights on this little bridge, otherwise some people might have missed it and realise it only with their feet in the little canal.

Let's walk a little on the side of the main alley to see the Palace on the Water. In front of it there is a lovely Christmas tree.

I was a bit disappointed because the Palace itself is not decorated.

Still, the game of light and shadows make it worth seeing after dark.

At the end of the Chinese valley there is a little Chinese pavilion. Easy to spot and to recognise thanks to the traditional red lanterns. They remind me of my trip to Taiwan.

Let's walk out of the park and climb up the Agrykola street. We will be accompanied by a shiny ceiling.

Aleje Ujazdowskie have some new decorations too. I think I like them more that the previous ones.

They look like huge Christmas tree decorations.

And another Christmas tree, this time in front of the Prime Minister Office.

As you might remember, next to the main entry to Łazienki Park there is a monument of the father of Polish independence - Józef Piłsudski. Since a few months it is possible to admire his car, a Cadillac 335D Series 30 from 1935.

The renovation of this limousine was an initiative of the Polish President. Here you can watch a little movie about it.

I hope that you have liked this short walk. Since it is pretty cold (minus eight centigrade today), I propose we finish it in front of the President's offices in Belweder.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

LEGO Exhibition

The last weeks were really cold in Warsaw. Therefore, I have opted for some indoor activities again. This year Warsaw is the host of the biggest exhibition of LEGO cubes in Poland. Let's check what they have managed to put together.

The exhibition takes place at the National Stadium that we have seen together during EURO 2012 finals.

As a compliment for the venue, one of the first exhibits is its LEGO twin.

The exhibition includes a number of topics. In the first place you can see there examples of all types and lines of LEGO. There are a few "LEGO Cities". Some of them show everyday life.

Others present some special places like this amusement park.

There is LEGO Technics for the teenage fans ...

... and DUPLO for the youngest.

Even the Spinjitzu masters from the most recent line of "Ninjago" cubes are present.

Later on come cubes showing the most famous buildings in the world. There is the Statue of Liberty - seems almost like the one that I have shown you during my cruise around Manhattan.

Then comes one of my biggest dreams - Taj Mahal.

The antique Forum Romanum ...

... is only a few steps from the Palace of Culture and Science.

The exhibition commemorates some historical events. It is possible to have a look at what Warsaw looked like in 1981 and 1982, during Martial Law in Poland. Long queues everywhere (and tanks here and there).

A bit further - a memory of what could have been a huge tragedy but became a huge joy - a copy of the Boeing 767 that Cpt. Wrona managed to land safely in Warsaw despite the lack of wheels. It was built by students from the Technical University in Rzeszów who have used 7.5 thousand cubes. On the top the pilot has left an autograph. This LEGO aircraft was sold at a charity auction for the benefit of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.

The biggest exhibit commemorates what ufortunately did become a huge tragedy. This copy of Titanic is just 25 smaller than the original, 3 meters tall and 11 meters long. The authors have used half a million cubes to build it.

Last but not least come the famous films and books retold through LEGO cubes. First the multi-awards winner, Avatar.

Pif-Paf City is a western town from famous comic books about Tytus, a humanised chimpanzee.

What is great is that the exhibition is not only about buildings, it tells whole stories, with lots of little figurines being very busy.

A few steps further you may see a scene from Indiana Jones movies.

A just here - Pirates of the Caribbean.

This poor little guy is obviously Frodo Baggins stung in Cirith Ungol by the giant spider Shelob. His faithful Samwise Gamgee tries to rescue him.

The last topic that I will show you is represented by many constructions and I will just show you a few. Well, I admit, I am a huge fan of Star Wars so I could not pass by the Millennium Falcon wothout showing it to you.

You can see all types of places - the AT-ATs walking on the icy planet Hoth from Part V "The Empire Strikes Back".

... and the volcanic rivers on planet Mustafar from Part III "Revenge of the Sith".

Not to forget this amazing Star Destroyer. It is 2 meters long and required 60 thousand cubes - they weigh 50 kilograms!

So next time that you ask in your letter for LEGO cubes you can try to be more specific. Then you can leave the letter to this gentlemen.