Sydneysiders bitter about the fact that the Game On gaming expo seemed to bunny hop right over the nation’s largest city can feel some relief today with the opening of the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibition at the Powerhouse museum. The exhibit brings together props and costumes from all six of the Star Wars films, and combines them with interviews from key people involved in the production of the films. But then it combines all of that with an intelligent look at the science in the sci-fi, by showcasing just where we are today in creating some of the technologies of a Galaxy far, far away.For most people, the exhibit will be a chance to look at some of the props from the original trilogy – Luke’s landspeeder is on display (although disappointingly with wheels), as are the actual models of the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca’s suit and some of the weapons from the films. But even though the exhibition is on two levels, there isn’t enough Star Wars paraphernalia to make the entrance quite worth the money. Luckily, there’s plenty of recorded audio and video interviews with some of the engineers on the original films, detailing where ideas for vehicles, landscapes and sound effects came from.
The key element in this exhibition, however, is in the interactive science parts. Adjacent to Luke’s Landspeeder is a section dedicated to maglev, the closest thing we have to landspeeder technology. Using Lego (hooray!) and magnets, you can create your own primitive vehicle to traverse a maglev track, with instructions to guide you along the way. Similarly, you can create your own robot, teach it to navigate a simple obstacle course and then give it a personality. And while you do this, you’ll learn just how difficult it is to create even a simple robot, let alone something along the lines of R2-D2.
And while it could have just been for the media preview yesterday, another entertaining aspect is the cast of dedicated volunteers who donned the Star Wars themed costumes for the exhibition. While this may not interest you too much, kids are sure to love being able to have their photo taken with Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a raft of stormtroopers and other Jedi.
The exhibition is running from today until April 26. If you’re into science and enjoy Star Wars, it’s got a lot to offer. It’s the kind of thing you’ll regret missing out on if you don’t go, so make sure you find some time this summer to go and check it out.