When I was little, I wanted to be an inventor. Not the next Edison, perhaps, but at least Caractacus Potts, who built “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” or Bernie in the “Sugar and Spike” comic books.
Alas, unlike those fictional whizzes, I have never been able to fashion a teleportation device from an eggbeater and flashlight, or create a flying car. It’s the 21st century and I really want a flying car. Maybe if I had visited the UW-Madison’s physics museum as a child, I could have one by now.
As public school break draws to a close, a trip to the museum might encourage your own budding inventors, and demonstrate that science can be as much fun as vacation — at least when presented the right way.
The L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum occupies room 2130 of Chamberlin Hall. It’s a long, gold-colored chamber of hands-on exhibits overlooking University Avenue. The physics department’s original pendulum clock ticks ponderously as busts of Newton, Tesla and Einstein glower over candy-colored amusements whose names sound as if they were drawn straight from a magic show.