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1999-26 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 1999

New Exhibits Highlight NCAR Summer Tours

Rene Munoz
NCAR Education and Tour Program Program
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-1173
(303) 497-1174 for recorded information
E-mail: munoz@ucar.edu

BOULDER -- New exhibits highlight the summer schedule at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which offers noontime guided tours of its Mesa Laboratory, Monday through Saturday, beginning June 14. No reservations are needed for the hour-long tours and there is no fee. The Mesa Laboratory, an award-winning creation of renowned architect I.M. Pei, is located at the west end of Table Mesa Drive (exit off U.S. 36) in southwest Boulder. Phone 303-497-1174 for recorded information. The summer schedule runs through September 4, when the winter timetable of Mondays and Wednesdays resumes.

New at NCAR's Mesa Lab: Static waves, thunderstorm detectives

Visitors to the Mesa Lab will encounter Static Landscape, a sculpture that responds when you tilt its disk back and forth, building up a static charge. Inside the clear Plexiglas disk are thousands of tiny steel balls (each about the size of a grain of sand). The static steers the balls in wildly varying, intricate patterns. This hands-on exhibit is inspired by ice crystals and other cloud particles that bump into each other and transfer electrical charge, helping to create complex electrical fields inside thunderstorms.

At Thunderstorm Detectives, visitors can press a button to make a cloud or see a microburst in action. Other favorite hands-on exhibits illustrate tornadoes, fog, wind shear, and other atmospheric phenomena. The Lightning Tube brings visitors into close contact with a very small bolt of "lightning." When visitors hold their hands near the tube, they become a lightning rod, attracting current and creating tiny lightning bolts inside the tube. Also in the tour are interactive displays on real-time weather and climate change, exhibits on aviation weather hazards, and several robotic weather instruments. NCAR's scientific computing facility, including its high-performance supercomputers from Cray, Silicon Graphics, and Hewlett-Packard, is also on view.

Gaze at art, grab a bite, or take a hike

Inspired by Mesa Verde, the landmark Mesa Lab commands spectacular views of the city below and easy access to hiking trails at the foot of the Flatirons, Boulder's signature mountains. Two art galleries offer changing displays (see Art Exhibitions), and the library and cafeteria are open to the public on weekdays.

A new collage, Explore the Mesa, portrays the flora, fauna, and geology to be seen outside NCAR's back door. Among the trails on and around the NCAR mesa is the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail, the nation's only interpretive weather trail and the only wheelchair-accessible nature trail in Boulder. A guidebook, Natural Features of NCAR's Mesa Site, is available in the lobby. Visit the weather trail on the Web.

For those who cannot take the noontime guided tour, a self-guided tour is available throughout the day, seven days a week. The building's hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. NCAR tour information is available on the Web.

The noontime tours are for individuals and families; organized groups wishing to tour NCAR should make a reservation for another time of day by calling 303-497-1173.

NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.

Young visitors examine the miniature tornado, one of many popular hands-on exhibits at the NCAR Mesa Laboratory in Boulder. Free noontime tours are offered Monday through Saturday during the summer.

-The End-

Visuals: Photos of exhibits and of the Mesa Lab are available. Contact Zhenya Gallon (303-497-8607; zhenya@ucar.edu) for assistance.

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The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by UCAR under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any of UCAR's sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.
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Last revised: Fri Apr 7 15:38:50 MDT 2000
Last revised: Thu Jun 3 17:10:14 MDT 1999