Magazine article Sunset

Earthquake Ride and Other New Science Adventures in Golden Gate Park

Magazine article Sunset

Earthquake Ride and Other New Science Adventures in Golden Gate Park

Article excerpt

Earthquake ride and other new science adventures in Golden Gate Park

"Seismophobia' is a term for the exaggerated fear of earthquakes. Confronting that fear by riding out a simulated quake is one learning adventure in the new Earth and Space Hall in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Opened in October, the hall is at the Natural History Museum of the California Academy of Sciences.

Terrestrial phenomena

Most compelling exhibit is the "safequake' ride. You join a small group aboard a specially engineered shake-table for a series of simulated tremors, culminating in a 6.5-magnitude jolt (equivalent to the temblor that rocked Coalinga, California, in May 1983).

As you ride, you'll hear the sounds of actual quakes. It's hoped that the total effect will motivate riders to take earth-quake-preparedness action at home.

Nearby, you can monitor two working seismographs. Other exhibits deal with plate tectonics and volcanism. The latter one helps you recognize a caldera and lets you feel the differences between various volcanic rocks.

Celestial sights

As you enter the 4,400-square-foot hall, stop to meet "The Old Woman,' second largest meteorite ever found in the United States. In 1976, this pockmarked chunk of iron and nickel, weighing 2 1/2 tons, was discovered by prospectors in the Old Woman Mountains of San Bernardino County, California.

Suspended from the ceiling is a spectacular model of our solar system. The planets, scaled so 1 inch equals 3,000 kilometers, rotate at relative speeds. …

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