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starship-design: Re: The Dutch Shop for Science
We indeed have science shops, they are usually part of an university, where
most faculties have one. It is an excellent way to provide students with
experiments other than the pre-chewed first year experiments in the lab.
So while helping actual people from the street, the students get a chance
to do some real experiments (where a whole lot of things can and do go wrong).
And the bonus is that it all doesn't cost much more money, since the
students have to learn how to do experiments anyway.
Usually the physics shops don't help out if direct commercial interests are
involved. It's especially meant for social worries (eg. radon gass in
housings, noise, pollution, EM radiation).
I've done two small projects for such a science shop. One regarding sound
echos in an oval shaped room and one where I'd to write a computer program
to process data from inside climate reading equipment and to
display/print/store it with the pressings of a few buttons. This was meant
as a follow up programme to enable (future) students to use the equipment
as a practical tool rather than as an object of study.
About the physics phone, I've used it myself once. Some common questions
can be answered right away, for others they will sent you information (a
one or two page article) by mail.
In fact it is a pretty neat thing, you think of a question and you call
them up, and you get an answer. I believe it is a toll-free number,
sponsored by the the government.
I don't think the Dutch are more or less interested in science then people
in other developed countries. However a phone to call whenever you have a
question is likely to stimulate people to think further than normal. It
likely will take years before the phone number will become know by a major
part of the population. My guess is that children at primary school will be
using it most often.
P.S. I wondered why the sky was blue. Do you know the answer?