Science and art aren't mutually exclusive. You can demonstrate scientific concepts artistically, and sometimes even physics can be phun. Take, for example, Sir Isaac's Loft, a feature in the Franklin Institute that "blends art and science into a 3,600 square feet display of aesthetic innovation." And with awesome exhibit names like the "Bowling Ball of Doom," how can you go wrong?

I was definitely not the only adult in the room. And at one point I may have tried to stare down a five year old who wanted to play with the same exhibit I was engaged in, but I admit to nothing. (When you're the same height, striking fear into the heart of a child is surprisingly difficult.)

Before you get to the loft, you can climb the stairs spiraling around a representation of Foucault's Pendulum. At 9:30 am, the museum starts the pendulum swinging in a north-south direction. During the day, the pendulum knocks down a peg encircling the dais every 20-25 minutes, and by 5 pm about half the pegs have been knocked down.

You enter the Loft through a hallway lined with different color lights (demonstrating light absorption and reflection) into a scintillating space stuffed with science.

Sir Isaac's loft

The first physical art/art of physics experiments I tried were the three "impossible human tricks." I am clumsy as it is, but even my athletic and balance-able husband couldn't beat the system. It's all about the center of balance, the plaques say.

impossible human trick

Try them! It's a good excuse to get up from your desk, and people will definitely ask what you're doing, so you can explain and sound smart.

#1 - Stand with your right shoulder and foot pressed against a wall. Then, try to lift your left foot for five seconds.
#2 - Press your heels and rear end against a wall. Try to lean over and pick something up off the floor in front of you.
#3 - Put your nose and toes against a wall. Try to stand on your toes for five seconds.

In each case, your center of balance will shift away from your base of support (i.e. your feet) and you'll be unbalanced.

The Bowling Ball of Doom was less scary than it sounds - it's actually a two-player game in which one person yanks on a rope that hoists a bowling ball up, and then when you let go the ball falls down a tube, forcing air into an arch that also contains ping-pong balls. The ping-pong balls go flying through the arched tube to the other side, where a second person, rope, and bowling ball await. Here's a picture of some random kid playing:

sir isaac's loft

The next installment will include photos, more fun machines, and even a tribute to baseball for Hank.