March 13th, 2005

little review

Poem for Sunday

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Saturday we decided to go to Baltimore to see the Titanic exhibit and the Titanica IMAX film, even though we thought we had seen both before. As it happened, we were wrong in both cases. We had seen the touring Titanic artifact exhibit several years ago, when there was some controversy swirling about it: Dr. Robert Ballard, who found the ship at the bottom of the Atlantic, felt very strongly that personal items should not be removed from what is essentially a mass grave, but the international laws of salvage apparently create a sort of finders, keepers legality that lets anyone who can actually mount an expedition, discover the ship's whereabouts and submerge safely retrieve items from the wreckage, so the current exhibition is funded in part from necklaces made from sunken Titanic coal.

I understand the arguments against tampering with the ruin but I think it's only the recent history that makes this different from any other search for sunken treasure -- pirate wrecks had people aboard too -- and since the kids didn't really remember from when they were younger, we thought we'd go again. The exhibit has been greatly enhanced and expanded since then, not so much with new artifacts but with many more illustrations and recreations of rooms on the ship, music, information about the people to whom the retrieved items belonged and even a giant fresh-water "iceberg," several yards long, so that people can get an idea how cold the water was when the passengers jumped from the sinking ship.

We had seen Ballard's film and another documentary about the Titanic in one of the science center theaters -- now we can't remember which one -- and we had thought Titanica was one of them, but seeing the film today we realized that we hadn't actually seen this one before. It's wonderful -- like Everest and the International Space Station documentary, one of those movies that made me glad someone sent a camera into this remote locale because you couldn't pay me enough to get into that little submarine chamber even if I were somehow qualified. The underwater images from the engine room are riveting, and we were all fascinated by the little white crabs and blind fish swimming around the rusticles and pieces of equipment. There was a bizarre moment where the cameras showed a stack of plates on the sea floor which had been in the exhibit, retrieved and stacked exactly as they had looked on the bottom of the ocean, where I thought that perhaps Ballard had a point that these things should have been left where they were, but how long will china last down there? At this point, nearly a hundred years after the sinking, I guess I don't have a big problem with it having been brought up for a museum exhibit. It isn't as if there are human bodies left to disturb. The IMAX film was preceded by a short movie made by Maryland Science Center staff about galaxies as seen by the Hubble Telescope, which was fascinating too.

The Science Center was also celebrating Einstein's birthday, so there were special demonstrations on gravitational lensing, the photoelectric effect and the scale of the Milky Way (plus a crazy hair contest and birthday cake, but we arrived too late to get any). And of course we had to go see the dinosaurs, the dry ice "fog tornado" and various human body and inertia exhibits. After we left I insisted on walking down to see the Constellation, which we haven't visited in the daytime since its trip last year when it docked with its stern facing Harborplace. We had to walk past all the restaurants in the Light Street Pavilion to get there, the kids announced they were hungry, and we ended up at City Lights having seafood. And really, what's the point of driving all the way to Baltimore without getting someone a crab cake? *g*

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Thanks so much to my anonymous LJ fairy! Show yourself and I will write you a porny drabble or something! *smooch* Also thanks to not_vacillating for being a beta goddess -- I am still fighting with the remix fic, and if I owe you a note or a comment or porn or anything, it may have to wait till Monday when I hope to send this off.

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