Discovery Place brings people outer space

Discovery Place’s newest exhibition takes visitors where they’ve never been before: outer space.

“Alien Worlds and Androids” highlights the work scientists have been doing to find extraterrestrial life through telescopes, robots, space probes and high-tech laboratories. It opens Saturday and runs until Sept. 14.

“It’s been some time since we’ve done an exhibit that delves into space,” said Joanie Philipp, Discovery Place vice president of operations. “We’re a science museum, so it’s great to revisit the subject in a fun and nonthreatening way.”

The new exhibit, which has been in the works for about two years, explores the question “Are we alone?” with nine thematic areas. Visitors will learn about how science fiction has influenced modern technology, the differences between aliens and androids and the technologies used to search for extraterrestrial life.

Interactive elements include a robotic arm that challenges visitors to use it to stack a pile of foam cubes on top of one another. Another is called The Turing Test, which allows users to look at responses to mundane questions like “How old are you?” and interpret if a computer or a human answered it.

Movie characters such as C-3PO from “Star Wars,” Iron Man and the extraterrestrial from “Alien” are also on display – and Philipp says she expects to see a lot of photos of them on social media.

But she also wants visitors to take a step back and learn about how science fiction has molded the reality of today.

“In any scientific discovery,” Philipp said. “if you can’t dream and you cannot think beyond what is real today or what the reality is, then science stops.”