I’ve touted the Beer & Bones events at the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas’s Fair Park for a while, and last week’s “Space Cadets” B&B involving space science was one of the best yet. It was also a little bittersweet, too, as this was the last one to be held in the old Fair Park Museum of Fine Arts building. Starting next January, while the old buildings will remain (considering that they’re historical landmarks from the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition), most of the Museum’s activities are going to the new Perot Museum in downtown. In my case, I realized that I’ve been causing trouble at the Museum for half my life, back when this building was still The Science Place. Man, where has the time gone?
Crowd-wise, this was one of the most diverse as well. Any time you have a space-related event in Dallas, there’s at least one twerp who comes out in his Star Trek uniform (the best I can figure, someone’s still nostalgic for the Federation Science exhibition that ran there back in 1995), but the vast majority of attendees were there to learn something. Oh, and to meet other local science junkies: I suspect that about half of the attendees were high school and middle school teachers on vacation, and this was perfect for them.
As has been the case since the beginning of Beer & Bones, what really makes the event work is a combination of exemplary activities and events orchestrated by MNS staffers and the presentations made by outside volunteers. This time, the National Space Society of North Texas came out to display samples of simulated lunar soil, discuss upcoming robotic and manned space missions, and generally turn vaguely interested bystanders into space science enthusiasts. I’ve been an enthusiast since the Mariner missions of the Seventies, and they made me excited.
Then again, that’s what the Museum has done best from the beginning. The old walls have plenty of stories: the robot dinosaur exhibitions, BodyWorlds, the long-running human body and hands-on physics demonstrations…this place has a lot of good memories associated with it.
Finally, as I was leaving for the evening, a small mystery. The Museum terrazzo floors feature inlaid constellations and planets across the lobby, with the terrestrial planets right near the ticket counter. For instance, here’s Mercury…
…and Mars. However, off to the right of Mars was this strange little body that I first thought might have been the asteroid Ceres or Vesta. Then I saw the name.
Now, seeing as how the IMAX theater in the Museum is dedicated to the founders of Texas Instruments, this might be a reference to Cecil H. Green, the geophysicist who helped found TI. Of course, this being Dallas, it might also be a reference to Cecil Green the Dallas race car driver. Considering that “Cecil Green” appears to be a green and pastoral world, I also wouldn’t be surprised if it had been discovered and named after Canada’s one and only Time Lord. I’d ask for elaboration at the next Beer & Bones, but since there won’t be one at the old museum…
I found the following on the Museum’s website:
Another distinctive feature of the terrazzo flooring is a representation of Halley’s Comet, which includes a 12-foot tail, and an asteroid named for Cecil Green, one of the four TI Founders of the theater’ s name. Other TI Founders are J. Erik Jonsson, Pat Haggerty, and Eugene McDermott.