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Breakthroughs in Science

Lessons from the Magic Planet

March 17th, 2009

Readers — we’re pleased to introduce Nick Houtman, a writer who will be contributing posts to the Breakthroughs blog. We’re very excited to have him join us!

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lessons_large2On my first visit to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, I saw whales, volcanoes and dinosaurs. I visited planets and stars and saw a giant pendulum swinging from the ceiling, knocking over a circle of sticks, one stick at a time. Evidence of the Earth’s rotation, so someone said. I thought it was a trick because nothing was rotating from my perspective. But then I was probably five years old.

Science museums and aquariums still intrigue me, but now I know a little about what’s going on behind the scenes. That’s because Lynn Dierking, John Falk and Shawn Rowe have a passion for that kind of work and have shared their story in the latest issue of Terra, OSU’s research magazine. These professors in OSU’s “free-choice learning program” want to foster understanding as well as create memories. Check out Lessons from the Magic Planet at oregonstate.edu/terra/2009/winter/lessons-magic-planet.


Nick Houtman grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and never forgot how high the snowbanks get at Crater Lake. He has been a journalist, cook, house builder and city council member. He lives in Corvallis and edits Terra magazine at OSU. Contact him at nick.houtman@oregonstate.edu, 541-737-0783.

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