Monday, July 12, 2010

Pittsburgh Day 2

After a good night's rest, my mom and I got up early for breakfast. Cereal, bagels, sausage, and more...the hotel had generous servings of both hot and cold food, as well as a waffle maker. I decided on something pretty plain - some yogurt and toast. I tend to go for the basics when I'm really hungry. We didn't get much food the night before.

After washing up and getting ready for the day, we headed downtown to visit the Carnegie Science Museum. Pittsburgh has three main colleges/universities, with Carnegie specializing in various forms of science and technology. While we didn't actually visit the universities themselves, the museum gave a good indication of the hands-on approach used in education in the States.

We arrived around noon, and finished at 4:45 pm. A fairly small museum, so we easily navigated through all the exhibits, and picked up some souvenirs from the gift shop. One huge difference between this museum and museums in Canada - the food is reasonably priced! Pizza slices for $2.10, hot dogs and hamburgers for a little more, and specialty meals for $5 or $6. In fact, the servings are so large in the U.S. that my mom and I shared chicken fingers and fries (a lot of people were ordering them, so we figured we should try) for $5.99.

By the time we got back to our car, it was extremely hot outside. Our rental car's interior felt like an oven. Thank god for air conditioning!

We finished the night with some shopping around town and dinner at Boston Market (they have really cute mini sandwiches). Not coincidentally, I had to purchase another digital card for my camera. However, Best Buy was closed and I had to wait until Day 3.

Finally back at the hotel, I was so tired, I fell asleep almost right away. Here are my favourite pics:

The exterior of the science museum.

View from inside the museum. Pittsburgh has many districts, with the museum in the North. Districts are connected by lovely yellow bridges. Such nice architecture.

One of the museum's features - the model train exhibit. Partially Canadian, because it's sponsored by Bombardier! The lights in the exhibit kept turning on and off to display day and night views of the miniature town. I was so amazed by the details and little people - so much that I entered and exited the exhibit from the wrong side...oops...

A night view of one of the miniature houses. Some houses had things/people inside.

A little parade down the miniature street.

No surprise - Pittsburgh loves its sports!

"Andy" greeted people at the robot exhibit, which was largely sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University ( Andy answered pre-made questions about robots, and could be programmed to change eye design and cheek colour.

Definitely the most eye-catching robot within the exhibit. Without any human help, this bot could pick up basketballs and throw them at the net (from close up or far away) with an accuracy of about 93%. This figure constantly changed with each shot made, and was compared next to a human score. Although some good shooters attempted to improve the human score, it always hovered around 13%.

This robot picked up and distributed little beads to create designs chosen by visitors. Extremely quick, it could pick up each bead in less than 1 second. Bob - were you there?

Poor fish got lost between two tanks.

Another view outside. The little "boat" at the bottom is actually a Just Ducky tour, which can move on land and water (

Sponsored by IBM, this device attempted to mimic human facial expressions. Maybe it was "tired" because it didn't work very well.

Have you ever played air hockey against a robot? Numerous attempts were made, but this stubborn machine never let in one goal.

My mom took a picture of me in front of the heat sensor. Finally proof that my hands are a lot colder than hers! Like my shades (glasses)?

By far my favourite! "Keepon" is a simple robot with sensors in its eyes and a flexible, bouncy body. It is used to examine social interactions with children and adults, especially those with developmental disabilities.

Note: The museum showed videos of many other robots, but I didn't have the energy to take so many pictures.

Cute headpiece!

Inside the submarine exhibit - S.S. Requin

I wouldn't survive on these beds.

We had to squeeze through these to get around the exhibit.

These controls are beyond me.

Care to play?

Remember the yellow bridge? Now we're under it.

More to come...days 3, 4, 5...

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