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"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

What is the universe like? Was there a beginning to time? How do we fit in to the cosmos? Questions like these are at the heart of Cosmic Questions: Our Place in Space and Time.

Visitors are invited to explore where we are in space and time, find out the latest on unsolved cosmic mysteries like black holes and extraterrestrial life, and discover what it's like to be an astronomer uncovering clues from the cosmos hidden in the faint light of distant galaxies. Interactive computer stations and stunning astronomical murals, take visitors behind the scenes of modern cosmological science and urges them to explore their own connection to the universe.

Four thematic areas introduce new answers to old questions and inspire the yet-newer questions that will further define our place in the cosmos. Among the highlights are an object theater that uses a cooking show motif to show connections between the "recipe" for the Universe and the "recipe" for humans; a cosmic ray cloud chamber; and a computer station where visitors can "look back in time," requesting that an image be taken from one of several automated telescopes and e-mailed to them the next day. Visitors can take Quick-Time VR tours of the Mauna Kea observatory and the space-based Chandra telescope's control room, "interviewing" astronomers and others who work there. "There's more to the night sky than meets the eye" is the theme of a cluster of exhibits where visitors can view a projected image of the night sky through a multiwavelength viewer; use a spectrometer to explore a simulated star field; and move an infrared camera over a wall of objects that transmit and reflect infrared radiation.

Stunning visual images are found throughout the exhibition, from an interactive photomural of the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies to a video flythrough of a computer model of the Universe. In several areas, the focus is on the human quest to understand our place in space and time, including a mini-theater where visual imagery, sound, and narration create a reflective space for pondering one of the exhibition's main themes that "the story of the Universe is the story of us."

Rich program materials, developed by the Museum of Science, Boston, include a theater piece, demonstration carts, and materials for students and teachers; a staff training workshop will also be offered to host museums.

Developed by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Jeff Kennedy Associates Inc., with generous support from the National Science Foundation and NASA, Cosmic Questions: Our Place in Space and Time is on display at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio through April 30, 2006.