Max and the Museum

June 12, 2012
By Joe DeTommaso BRONZE, Flemington, New Jersey
Joe DeTommaso BRONZE, Flemington, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The time had finally come as a wide, bright smile spread across Max’s face. Max stepped through the entranceway and stood triumphantly as if he was about to conquer the world. In Max’s eyes, today was just about the most important day of his life, today Max was no longer a mere child, today Max was a teenager, and for the first time in his fourteen year old life he would be allowed to explore the science museum all on his own. It was a day Max had been waiting for forever; not that he didn’t enjoy his parents company, he’d just rather be off on his own, left alone to think while he examines the museum’s exhibits. Max and his parents stand in the entranceway for a moment until his dad begins to rifle off Max’s rules for the day. “Now Max, please just don’t break anything.”
“Haha ok dad, you know I’m fourteen now right? I’m in high school, I think I can handle looking around the museum alone,” Max responded confidently.

“Ok buddy, if you insist.” And with his dad’s final words of approval, Max was off. He headed right into his favorite section of the museum: The Physical Science’s. The museum had just remodeled most of its exhibits, and Max was eager to see what new surprises would be in store for him.

As Max rounded the corner to the physics exhibits he noticed a new hallway added into the building. He peered down the hallway curiously. Max could hardly see what the hallway was hiding due to the lack of lighting. The boy shrugged and continued to walk, enjoying his favorite portion of the museum. He looked at some planetary displays and a few demonstrations on subatomic particles, but inevitably, like any adventure seeking fourteen year old, curiosity scratched at Max, begging him to go back and find out what was down that hallway. Finally, Max gave in and headed back.
“Well, I might as well just go see what’s down there. If anyone sees me I’ll just say I made a wrong turn or somethin’.”
Max stared down the dimly lit hall and began to walk in. He walked, and walked, and walked down the seemingly endless corridor until coming to an abrupt stop at two tightly shut golden doors that Max could barely see in the darkness. He looked around. “How do I open these things,” He wondered. Just then, the glimmer of an abandoned spider’s web caught his eye. As Max looked closer he saw a button hidden behind the dusty web. “Hmm... This must be an old elevator ride or something, but why is there only one button?” Max stared blankly at the lonely mechanism. No up, no down, just one plain old boring button. “Eh what the heck, “Max said, his curiosity eating away at him. Just as fast as the thought had crossed his mind, Max’s hand slapped the button, revealing the elevator’s cabin. Without hesitation Max stepped right in, watched the doors shut, and sat back, excited to see what he had discovered. Suddenly, the elevator picked up speed and didn’t stop. Max held on tight while the walls seemed to stretch as if the elevator’s floor couldn’t keep up with the speed that the ceiling was being pulled. And then… Boom! The elevator slammed to a surprisingly soft halt. The doors slid open before Max’s eyes revealing an auditorium. Men sat quietly around the room, eyes fixed on a man standing out in front. Not wanting to cause a disturbance, Max shuffled into one of the many rows of seats contained by the auditorium. The elevator doors shut closed quietly as the man in the front of the room began to speak.

[POEM - Copernicus]
As the man finished his speech, Max heard a click come from behind him and noticed the elevator doors had begun to open. Quietly, careful not to disturb anyone, Max slid out of the rowed seating and headed back into the elevator. The doors closed as the machine shot skyward once again. Max gripped the sides of the elevator tightly until once again the elevator halted and opened its doors revealing a new scene.
Max stepped out of the elevator onto a patch of grass. It’s a nice sunny day, like springtime. Max can see a town just over a hill to his left. Positioned right in front of him is an apple tree accompanied by an intelligent looking man relaxing in its shade. “These exhibits are so real,“ Max thought. As he watched, an apple dropped from the trees sturdy branches, smacking the man right across the top of the head. Startled, the man looks up at the tree and back down at the apple. Amused of his sudden inspiration He begins muttering his thoughts…”the apple…parallel to Earth…” Max quietly stares as the man continues to rifle off his idea.

[POEM - Newton]

“Ahh... shoulda seen that one coming.” Max thinks as he imagines himself back in the 6th grade learning what gravity and Isaac Newton. Without much more to see here the elevator door reopened, Max stepped inside and is pulled along by the more familiar rush of the elevator. “I wonder when this ride ends,” Max thought.
For the third time the elevator reached a halt. Slowly the doors cleared the way and Max took a few steps out into a dimly lit room. As Max's eyes adjusted to the light he took notice of the various tools and mechanical pieces strewn throughout the room. Cluttered work benches filled the majority of the floor space. The room's illumination seemed to be coming from the back so Max crept his way over to check it out. In the very back of the room stood a man hunched over his very own bench. The single incandescent light that hung over his head was the sole light in the room. The man pressed two wires together. Zzzzzzzzap! A spark erupted from between the wires' two plucked ends as a small plume of smoke rose towards the ceiling. "I wonder if I can talk to these people," Max thought. Hesitantly, Max steps out into the light. The man looks up. "Ummm hello Sir, " Max said hesitantly.
“Oh you must be the delivery boy with those parts I ordered!” The man exclaimed.
“Parts?” Max answered.
“Yes, yes. The parts! The special screws I asked for.”
Max looked around worriedly and grabbed for a box of screws he had spotted on his way over. He handed them to the man. “Hmm.. not what I asked for exactly, but I suppose these shall do.”
The man sat back to work. “Excuse me sir, what exactly are you doing here,” Max asked.
“I’m working on my AC powered motor!” He responded excitedly.

[POEM Tesla]
Upon finishing his explanation, Tesla asked, “Do you think you’d be able to get me another delivery? I need the correct parts this time though!”
Unsure what to respond, Max decided his best bet would just be to agree. “Sure sir, I’ll be back with those in a jiff.” As the words of Max’s false promise left his lips, the familiar click of the elevator door sounded. Upon the machine’s signal, Max turned and headed for the door. “Good bye Mr. Tesla!” Max called back as he stepped into the machine. The doors shut once again and Max is flown towards the sky as the elevator has picked up more speed than any of the last few rides. “What the heck?” Max thought, surprised at the intense increase in speed. Boom! This time the elevator came to an unfamiliarly hard stop as Max was flung into the side of the container. The doors opened up once again, unveiling a quiet wood-floored room.

At first the room seemed to be unoccupied until Max noticed a small frazzled looking man, quietly at working off to the side. The man had wild white hair, which stuck up in all directions. Outside the window flew a flag in the breeze, colored with radiant yellow, black, and red stripes.

Max began to approach the man who continued to be seemingly unphased by the young boy’s presence. He continued writing wildly until his hands sporadic movements met an abrupt end with his pencil’s prick punctuating its final paragraph. “Who in the world are you?!” He asked alarmed by Max.
“Oh, I apologize sir. My name is Max, I’m just curious what you’re doing here. What is all this?” Across the white haired man’s desk lay disheveled papers littered with math equations and foreign calculations. “What is this you ask? This is going to be my final theory of relativity.”
“Relativity? What’s that? And wait a second… who even are you anyway?”
[POEM – Einstein]

“So relativity says gravity is caused by a warp in space-time?”

[Relativity Explanation]

“Wait… if you don’t mind me asking, is your first name Albert?”
“You got it kid.”
“And you’re working on your theory of relativity?”
“That would be correct.”
Suddenly a light flicked on in Max’s head.
“I know who you are! You’re Albert Einstein! This ride is too cool!” Max thought out loud.
“Ride?” Einstein asked curiously.
“I guess these guys aren’t made to talk about the actual ride…” Max thought
“Umm never mind about that sir, I was just thinking to myself.
“Ahh I see, Well my boy, I must go change as I will be headed out shortly. You can let yourself out over there.” Einstein looked over towards what seemed to be the front door.
Max took a glance over at the elevator door, still tightly shut. The moment Einstein stepped out of the room – Click! The elevator was right on cue. Taking one more look out of the room to make sure he was alone, Max hurried over to the elevator. “Ok now I’ve seen it all… I wanna get off and go back to my parents.” The elevator doors shut, but the room remained stationary. “Go down!” Max yelled as he jumped up and down in an attempt to force the elevator to move.
Suddently a voice spoke, “What is a heliocentric system?”
“What is this, a joke?” Max yelled back, “I’m just visiting the museum. I’m not here for a pop-quiz!” His shout produced no response.
“Ugh, looks like I’ll have to play along. A heliocentric system is the planetary arrangement of our solar system in which the Sun lies at the center as opposed to the Earth.”
Ding! The elevator sounded and spoke again, “What creates gravity between objects?”
“When two objects posses mass, they create an invisible attraction between them regardless of how big or small,” Max answered diligently.
The elevator gave off another congratulatory ding.
“I’m pretty good at this,” Max thought to himself proudly.
Again, the elevator questioned Max. “What is an AC current?”
“AC stands for alternating current. That means that the current periodically reverses direction which in turn can be used for rechargeable items such as generators.”
A third “ding” sounded. “Final question,” the elevator said, “Please briefly explain relativity.”
Max knew he’d ace this one. He had thought relativity was the most interesting topic he had learned, and he listened closely to every one of Einstein’s words.
“The theory of relativity states that space and time are relative, not fixed. This in turn means space-time acts as one entity as opposed to two separate concepts. The warping of space time due to an object’s mass gives the true insight and explanation to how gravity is created.”
The elevator paused an extra moment before sounding its final “ding”. The instant after the elevator dropped completely into freefall, traveling faster than Max could have ever imagined possible. Max screamed at the top of his lungs, expecting to die inside of the metal coffin. Suddenly things began to get bright, and white light took over all of Max’s vision.
Before another thought could cross his mind, Max was standing still. No longer was Max in the elevator, but instead standing back in front of it just where he had been before he ever pressed the lone button on the wall. He could see the button in front of him, still covered in cobwebs, untouched. “What in the world just happened?!” Max turned and ran as fast as he could out of the dark hallway and through the museum until he found his parents in the fossil section latching onto them both with a huge hug upon his arrival.
“Whoa Max, how come you’re so happy to see us? You look like you’ve been all over the place today.”
“Yea I guess you could say that,” he responded with a smile.
“I better just keep this one to myself,” Max thought, “I don’t think they’d ever believe a word of what happened anyway.”

The author's comments:
My piece is a story intended to educate readers on some of the history of physics through a fun fantasy-adventure.

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