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Submerse yourselves in Science Museum


 Oh the stories that this storied submersible--now on dry land at the Science Museum in Richmond--could tell.
PAUL SULLIVAN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 1/13/2013

THERE is always so much going on at the Science Museum of Virginia.

And if you get tired of something, just walk to another gallery and find another exhibit to explore.

A friend steered us to an outstanding display of guitars and performances by Richmond folk singer Susan Greenbaum. It was outstanding--but also leaving town the next day.

I went with friends CG and Bob and Lou Gramann. Bob is a Fredericksburg-based composer, performer--and guitar maker.

There is a national museum of the guitar in the works, and the exhibit is slated to show up in a number of other venues across the country before finally settling into a new permanent home at a city not yet chosen. Keep an eye on this.

From guitars, we moved to a featured exhibit of human anatomy and physiology, then to James River marine life followed by Rat Basketball.

You know Rat Basketball. That's where a couple of cool rats--real rats--make unfailingly killer shots at hoops. Hard to capture that fun in a few words, but the crowded audience ate it up.

Did I mention that the rats go through the hoops holding their miniature basketballs?

Later, I was looking at a display of extreme animal capabilities. Did you know a cheetah can hit 68 miles per hour in three seconds flat, from a standing start? That is serious acceleration!

Anyway, I'm living proof that attention deficit disorder is always with you. I went on through the museum like that, hopscotching from one unrelated thing to another, until

I saw a kids exhibit on oceanside biology on a lower floor. I love anything for kids--it cuts right to the chase.

But when I found my way down a staircase to the exhibit, I saw something else of an oceanic nature--outside, some distance behind the museum.

It was "Aluminaut," an 80-ton, 55-foot-long forged aluminum deep sea submersible built by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division that once roamed the oceanic depths. It's the real thing. Built in the mid-1960s, it was used extensively for seven years before being retired in 1971.

Aluminaut, with a crew of three, made 251 dives during its active life, for a wide variety of government and other clients including the U.S. military.


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