Monday, August 6, 2012


I didn't feel like orchestrating a complex sightseeing tour today.  (See yesterday's post.)  I decided it would be a good day to wander around the Old Town and buy more souvenirs.  The one tourist site I did explore today was the courtyard of Jagiellonian University (the place where Copernicus studied).  I am planning on taking a tour there tomorrow, but I thought I'd check it out ahead of time.  Next to the main building is a place called the Professors' Garden.  At first glance, it just seemed like a place to memorialize ancient Polish scholars, but there are also some cool science toys there.

 The above is a sphere which demonstrates the power of air pressure.  You put the two halves of the sphere together, then turn a crank which removes the air from inside.  In theory, the sphere can then hold an enormous amount of weight without being pulled apart.  Unfortunately, this one had a leak, and a good strong tug would pull the halves apart again.

 An armillary sphere showing the oreintation of the earth and the sky we see.

Michael: this one is for you.  This device is a radiation detector.  The three buttons set it to detect different kinds of particles.  It detects horizontally oriented muons, vertically oriented muons, and gamma rays.  The inside apparatus rotates for the different orientations.  The digital display shows how many radiation particles it is detecting on average each minute.  According to the sign, the scholars at Krakow also built the predecessor to CERN in Switzerland.  Pretty cool!

The rest of my day out was spent having lunch with Sarah and browsing lots of shops.  I tried to get inside whenever I could, though, because it was hot today.  More adventures tomorrow!


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