AFTER ALL that interplanetary space travel, the starship USS Enterprise has landed in Buffalo.
"Star Trek Federation Science" is a $1.2 million exhibit that will be land-based at the Buffalo Museum of Science from Tuesday through Sept. 6.
Designed and constructed by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in conjunction with Paramount Pictures and Gene Roddenberry, the late creator of the television series, the exhibit is a melding of science, technology and entertainment.
"Star Trek" ranks as one of the largest exhibits the museum has hosted -- it fills Hamlin Hall and spills over into the adjoining foyers on either end.
It also has been one of the most complicated to assemble. Technicians have been walking around with blueprints, flashlights and screwdrivers for two weeks to re-create portions of the Enterprise, including the bridge, sick bay and the transporter room.
Ernst E. Both, president of the Science Museum, said the summer-long exhibit probably will be understood best by those 10 and older, who will be able to play with the technology. Younger children should enjoy seeing the costumed characters, some from local "Star Trek" clubs, who will be on hand to answer questions and add Trekker ambience.
At the exhibit, visitors can gaze into the face of a Klingon head in a glass case and see how they'd look as a member of that alien race. This trick is done with mirrors.
In the Transporter Room, as visitors stand under the lights of the transporter pad, their image is disassembled and beamed to Far Point Station. When they rematerialize, their video image can interact with balls and bubbles on the screen.
In sick bay, the curious can place their hand on a hand outline where they will get a reading of pulse rate, skin temperature and blood oxygen saturation. Called the
Propac unit, the device is used by medical workers.
The exhibit also offers a chance to see original costumes worn by Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, as well as tricorders, phasers, life-size alien models, medical instruments and scenes from favorite episodes in this incredibly popular series and its sequel, "Star Trek: The Next Generation." The exhibit was designed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the original show.
Science buffs and video game experts (all kids over age 10?) will be challenged to save the starship from the disaster of being lost in outer space or crunched by an asteroid.
And they'll have to call on their math and physics skills to help them as they interact with video games on the bridge. Those who succeed in seven minutes or less are rewarded by choosing an image, such as the star clusters or planetary views, to be projected onto a curved 120-inch rear-projection screen.
Those too young to grasp triangulation and pulsars can try simpler games. There's a virus/antibody game similar to air hockey where participants can learn how the body fights off hostile invaders.
And they can use the Planet Walker machine, where they sit in a padded cart placed on a sloped surface. By bouncing against the front wall it's possible to get a feeling of the one-sixth-gravity weight that was experienced by the astronauts as they bounced on the moon. The Space Billiards game demonstrates the effect of a planet's gravity on a passing body.
For the smaller set, who may may be a bit overwhelmed by the main exhibits, the Science Arcade offers some of the most popular projects from Summer Science Circus, such as catapults, ball ramps and the sand pendulum.
The museum chose the "Star Trek" exhibit as its summer attraction after meeting with World University Games officials, who urged cultural organizations to feature something special this year, Both said.
"We'll be the only place in New York State, for now, to host this," he said. "We wanted to try a large exhibit during the summer, and in a sense that's a gamble. But from all indications so far we expect a large attendance."
After Buffalo, the exhibit travels to Chicago as part of a three-year tour that will take it to eight cities. "Star Trek" is sponsored locally by Key Bank of New York.
Museum admission during the special exhibit is $4.50 for adults; $3 for children 3 and older, students with identification cards and senior citizens.
During "Star Trek," extended hours for the museum, located at 1020 Humboldt Parkway, are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The museum is closed every Monday except Aug. 30 and Sept. 6. Also, it will be open on Sunday, July 4. Call 896-5200 for information.
It is best to allow at least 1 1/2 hours to try the more than 30 interactive models that are part of the exhibit. If you want to avoid the crowd crush, come during the extended evening hours. But we can't tell you when to find a quiet time -- this is destined to be a busy, noisy place for the next few months.