New Blockbuster at State Museum Demonstrates Nature's Power

January 26, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC – January 26, 2009 – The incredible forces of wind, water and earth are demonstrated vividly in the South Carolina State Museum’s latest exciting blockbuster exhibit Powers of Nature, opening Jan. 31.

“Surprisingly, the United States experiences the widest range of natural disasters of any country in the world,” said Director of Science and Outreach Tom Falvey. “Each year, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and active volcanoes cause billions of dollars of property damage, economic devastation and loss of human life.”

The exhibit explores the science behind these natural disasters with more than 25 interactive stations which present dramatic video or allow guests to demonstrate to themselves the power of nature by making their own weather maps, using a computer with satellite and radar data to predict the weather or one of many other hands-on activities.

“It also shows how these phenomena are studied and predicted, how they can affect our lives and how we can protect ourselves,” said Falvey. “The volcanoes display combines science with history as it presents an artist’s striking 3-D rendering of a girl and dog found buried beneath the ash of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD,” Falvey said.

The massive force of nature isn’t just in faraway earthquakes and volcanoes, however. The thunderstorms area includes fascinating information on lightning, which strikes up to 25,000 times an hour somewhere in America, and can contain two million volts of electricity per bolt. Also, it strikes more people in neighboring North Carolina than in any state except Florida.

The exhibit tells the story of a girl who survived a lightning strike, and features other astonishing survival tales of humans vs. nature. Elsewhere, moving lights show how the location, geography and the oceans surrounding the United States lead to the most varied combination of severe storms on earth.

In the “Weather Lab” section, guests can learn what makes wind, and then can pump up an enclosed balloon to simulate pressure and release the air to re-create the origin of wind from areas of high pressure to low pressure areas.

Other intriguing activities allow Museum visitors to:

-Spin the Earth to cause wind changes which begin tornadoes and hurricanes

– Juggle the Earth’s crustal plates on a global puzzle

– Create their own thunderstorm by seeding clouds, and

– Climb inside a storm shelter to experience the animated sounds of a tornado outside, and much more.

“This exhibit truly shows, in a very dramatic way, that despite man’s progress, knowledge and technology, his power is dwarfed by the natural forces of this world,” said Falvey. “Anyone going through this exhibit will leave it in awe of Mother Nature.”

Media sponsors for Powers of Nature include Lamar Advertising, The State, WCOS-FM, WNOK-FM and STEVE-FM.

The exhibit can be seen through Sept. 7.

More information can be found on the museum’s Web site,