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Go Ask Mom

New science museum exhibit explores 'the secret world' inside us

Posted October 18, 2016

Interactive table – The Secret World Inside You features a 14-foot projection of a woman’s body as part of an interactive table that highlights ways that microbes impact human health. Visitors can zoom in on 17 animated microbial scenes, from the Streptococcus bacteria that cause plaque on teeth, to the bacteria that break down the crystals that cause kidney stones, to the first big dose of bacteria babies get when they exit through the birth canal.
© AMNH/D. Finnin

The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh opens a new special exhibit this weekend that explores the secret world inside all of us.

"The Secret World Inside You" uses larger-than-life models, computer interactives, videos and art installations to explore the evolving science that allows us to better understand human health and the inner workings of our bodies. The exhibit opens Saturday and runs through March 12.

The exhibit explores the microbes in and on our bodies. Together, they weight about as much as a brain, but they are vital to keep our bodies running smoothly, according to a press release.

"Investigating the human microbiome is a very young science, and researchers are just beginning to understand what constitutes a 'normal' microbiome, how it changes over time, and how it affects health and disease," the press release says. "But what is clear is that the effects of the microbiome on its human host are profound and multifaceted — and could play an important role in common health problems like allergies, asthma, obesity, and even anxiety and depression."

The exhibit dives into questions about how, for instance, the number of times you've taken antibiotics can influence your health or how the state of bacteria in your gut plays a role in your mental health.

As part of the exhibit, museum staff have added a "Super Human Theater," using projection mapping to animate inanimate objects. In the 12-minute projected show, a young woman tells the story of how she grew sick from a bacterial infection, but was eventually cured with the help of microbes. Her story also introduces the concept of metabolites — tiny molecules that our bodies and our microbes produce — which play a huge role in our health, the release says.

The exhibit opens Saturday. Tickets are $10; $8 for seniors, students and the military; and $7 for kids ages 3 to 12. It's free for members.


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