Local News

NC Nature Research Center to feature LCD ribbon

Posted April 6, 2012 11:40 a.m. EDT
Updated April 6, 2012 6:49 p.m. EDT

— When the new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences opens in a couple weeks, visitors will be given a whole new window into the world of scientists and how they study nature. 

One of the most eye-popping features visitors will see when they walk into the main atrium of the Nature Research Center is an LCD ribbon sculpture called "Patterns of Nature." It looks like a water slide, but it's actually 3,600 LCD pixels that designers will use to show depictions of patterns in nature. 

The ribbon will use electricity to push squares of glass, changing how much light can pass through them and changing what people walking through the museum see on the LCD pixels. 

Surprisingly, the 90-foot ribbon structure is quite efficient.

"This entire display here takes about 75 watts, which is less than your average light bulb at home," engineer Bill Washbaugh said. 

Once the museum opens, designers hope visitors will notice patterns they depict on the energy-saving pixels – things like flocks of birds or ripples in a pond.

"The reason that things all look the same is that they're created by the same forces of nature that make things look the way they do," designer Eric Gunther said. 

Designers say the pixels provide an artful introduction to the kinds of natural wonders folks will learn about at the museum. Sounds will also make the LCD ribbon sculpture more than just a visual experience. 

The Nature Research Center opens April 20 with a 24-hour celebration beginning that Friday at 5 p.m. The museum will close Sunday so staffers can make final preparations for opening the new wing.