I went to the “Beyond the Cube” Rubik’s exhibit at the New Jersey Science Museum last weekend and it was almost as awesome as Ernő Rubik in 1979. (PLEASE NOTE: NOTHING IS ACTUALLY AS AWESOME AS ERNŐ RUBIK IN 1979.)
I dunno…I want to avoid making this really long and detailed and boring, like my first instinct to make it will be? (Because there were SO MANY THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW JERSEY SCIENCE MUSEUM.) So maybe instead of actually describing everything, here’s just some…bullet points?
(But okay here’s ONE long and rambly thing first, because it was STRIKING and I don’t know how to say it in bullet points: this thing was incredibly fucking well presented. So, okay, admittedly, I’ve never been to ANY science museum before, and obviously I’ve never been to THIS science museum before, so maybe they’re ALL this rad? But this was so well-planned and well-thought-out and engaging and blah blah. The epitome of this is that they had a zillion cubes, just sort of lying around the space, on all the tables and by the front entrance, for you to just pick up and play with while you wandered around, and carry around with you, and use at the different stations, if you were so inclined. No directed instructions. Just: hey! Here’s a cube. Have a cube! If you want! THIS IS SO SMART. I’m sure they lost, like, 100 of them, maybe.
But they sold SO MANY MORE than that in the gift shop. That was a loss that was WORTH IT. Not to mention that obviously this was heavily supported by Rubik’s, so…it was all a very impressive immersive commercial experience? So. Anywho.)
I brought my own cube with me, OF COURSE.
HAHA NO NOT THIS ONE THIS ONE IS CHEATY.
My original one – my Rubik’s-brand Rubik’s cube, with the filthy peeling stickers and the one missing orange middle piece, and the horrible sticky slow sliding movement. Because it’s sentimental! The person I went with brought his fancy Japanese stickerless Dayan speed cube, which was BUUUUUUULL. I put my cube down on the table next to me at one point while I was playing with one of the wooden pentomino puzzles. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that there were a zillion random other cubes just laying around all over the place, and that mine might be mistaken for one of those, despite the fact that mine is…let’s say…”well-loved-looking.” In fact, this only occurred to me at all when I happened to turn my head and notice the seven-year-old girl holding it and testing whether she could actually see inside it to find out how the inner mechanisms worked if she stuck her evil little fingers down inside it and pulled the layers straight out apart from each other, hard. I…didn’t know how to request that someone else’s young child stop destroying my sentimental object? So I just sort of gasped and looked away, as though I’d accidentally caught sight of a bloody accident, and shook my two tiny little fists at the sky until she got distracted and dropped it (ARG) and left. (If she’d taken it with her…I guess I probably would have just lost it forever, so unable was I to kindly butt in and ask her to return it.)
All of the docents were REALLY young. Not just for this one Rubik’s exhibit, though – across the whole museum. They were all 14 year old boys. It was weird and adorable and either a great idea or a terrible one? The one trying to teach six-year-olds how to program robots was…not great with six-year-olds. The one guarding the giant American flag made out of cubes, who kept having to re-solve the bottom 3 rows after people messed them up was very patient and down-trodden and sympathetic. The one working the “robot doctor” exhibit downstairs was SO BORED.
The Masterpiece Cube – the “most expensive cube in the world” – was there. It looked exactly like a goddamn grill. It was made by a jeweler whose name I didn’t recognize, from Houston, Texas. I suspect he also makes grills, frankly.
A ROBOT TRIED TO SOLVE MY CUBE, AND FAILED.
(THAT’S MY CUBE HE’S GOT THERE!!!!)
(Or: A robot was offered the opportunity to solve my cube, and turned it down, because my cube was not good enough. Either way.) Oh my god you guys, Denso the Robot. My heart was ALL AFLUTTER when I handed Denso the Robot my cube. I almost didn’t do it. My poor fucking cube…so handicapped already, so wonky, so off-balance and sticky…I was afraid it would be broken by THE MASSIVE STRENGTH OF DENSO THE ROBOT!! But there was this 13 year old boy who kept flirting with me and egging me on until I did it. So. I did. Who am I to turn down flirty 13 year old boys?
[NOTE: Please pretend I was not too lazy to illegally download "Humans Are Dead" and then download a program to allow me to get rid of the audio on the video, where, like, you can hear me giggling shriekingly in ecstatic horror, and you can hear the 13 year old boy flirting, and you can hear some lady sort of disappointedly mocking me at the end there for having gotten totally DENIED by a robot ("Why did it reject your thiiing?"), and instead I would have set the video to "Humans Are Dead," probably starting about about 40 seconds. Perhaps you can just play both videos at the same time, for full and discombobulating effect???]
The rest of the museum was also insane. LETS FIND OUT TOGETHER:
There was goo!
There was a pitch-black maze that you had to navigate by touch alone and it was AMAZING and the person behind me totally touched my boob, totally on accident (probably)!
There was a fake hurricane and I wore a poncho!
I walked on a super-scary too-tall thing! (I look like I’m laughing here. I am actually sobbing from sheer terror. It was NOT FUN or good or exciting. I hated it. Quite a bit.)
There was something called the “Infection Section,” which taught you all about AIDS and Dengue Fever, and featured small children touching things with their filthy clammy little fingers, which was just terribly ironic, and also had a life-size model of a subway train, which showed video of a doctor telling you that you had West Nile Virus and announced: “Next stop: tuberculosis!” just before I said: “Nope!” and disembarked.
THERE WAS THIS THING!!!
They had, like, some kind of crazy mini-zoo?? It was oddly inappropriate and uncool – the tanks and cages were all WAY TOO SMALL and not I felt pretty bad for most of the animals. (Though there was a two-year old baby tortoise named Tortellini who was WONDERFUL and I can only imagine he’s very happy.) They had these tiny little old-man-faced monkeys, and one of them did not have a tail (I learned, from the woman standing next to me, that “cola” means “tail” in Spanish – when she said to me: “No cola!” all super-excited), and THEY WERE SO FUCKING INTRIGUED BY MY GODDAMNED CUBE.
They WATCHED it. They were INTERESTED. They watched it for a LONG TIME. It was FANTASTIC. One of them in PARTICULAR was interested, but I got an audience of up to four at one time. They were CONFUSED, but they WANTED TO KNOW MORE.
[OKAY AND NOTE: Please pretend here that I wasn't too lazy to turn this into a gif where one of the monkeys says, in neon pink text: "You see this fucking thing?" and then the other monkey says, in neon yellow text: "The fuck even is this thing?" It would have been way better that way, I know. But it's like 1:00am, you guys.]
Remember how I was basically super disappointed in the Mutter Museum’s gift shop? This gift shop inspired me to dizzying heights of consumerist desire, but…also, I was basically still totally disappointed and there was so much stuff they SHOULD have had that they didn’t. I wanted to buy the little cube man. I wanted to buy a space helmet. I wanted to buy dino earrings. I wanted to buy that awesome tiny great little wooden puzzle that was like a tetris chessboard thing. I want to buy a secret hidden treasure box version of a cube. I want to buy a custom-made cube with like photos on each side. I wanted to buy an astronaut monkey backpack. I wanted to buy an astronaut penguin in a removable hood helmet.
I did not buy anything.
OMG EDIT, THOUGH: Over the course of the next few days, writing this and fucking around, I figured out what that “awesome tiny great little wooden puzzle like a tetris chessboard thing” was!
It’s a pentomino puzzle! And while I was trying to find it, I found one called a soma cube accidentally first, which was also neat (and I bet was also at the exhibit but I didn’t pay as much attention to it I guess) (and um now that I’m looking at that photo, actually I’m realizing that that other thing right fucking there is indeed a soma cube, so, yeah). (All of the websites about soma cubes are these adorable super-old-school-looking homemade German math nerd sites, for some reason. [Apparently "wurfell" means "puzzle!" I'm learning so many new things. "Wurfell." "Cola." This whole experience has been TERRIBLY educational.] …With a few super-kawaii Pinteresty how-to-make-your-own-for-Father’s-Day!-type sites thrown in for good measure, I guess.) Also this massive 56-piece thing which seems to be just a super-big soma cube? Probably you can still call it that when it’s got this many pieces? I…am totally going to make all of them?? (Whoa. Especially this amazing origami version??) (Maybe I can also make my own “cube for the blind,” since they’re AWESOME and weirdly hard to find for sale? Or make it an art object, semi-unusable: spikes of different colors/sizes/lengths/sharpnesses. That’s not at all unusable, I guess, just…like, careful, or whatever? I could just remove all the stickers from an all-black one to do this? Or just buy a cheap one and paint it all one color before I add the tactile stuff? Omg rad I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT A ZILLION PROJECTS YOU GUYS.)