Modern science in old Macau

When the former Portuguese colony of Macau became part of China in 1999, there were some doubts as to its future.  Fortunately, for the good citizens of Macau, that former colony has moved ahead in leaps and bounds.  Now that its casino has been stripped of its monopoly and new investors allowed in, there has been so much development that Macau’s casino business rivals that Las Vegas.

It’s not just the casinos that have multiplied, but other tourist infrastructure as well.  One attraction that is interesting is the Macau Science Centre.

The Macau Science Centre, which was designed by world-renowned Chinese-American architect IM Pei, is instantly recognisable by its silvery, cone-shaped exterior. Of the fourteen galleries arranged in a spiral and accentuated by an arch shape, ten are now open.

After Beijing and Hong Kong, Macau is the third city in the world to possess the 8000 x 8000 pixel screen equipment. The Centre also generates 3D effects via a high definition 3D projection system in the Space Theatre of the Planetarium, the first digital system to be simultaneously equipped with ultra-high definition (8000 x 8000) and 3D visual effects in the world – all designed to give visitors an entertaining yet educational insight into the fascinating world of science. In addition, a same-scale model of the Shenzhou-VII spaceship and a number of automatic intelligent robots will be featured in the brand-new Macau Science Centre.

Currently available 3D and 2D Dome Shows at the Planetarium include “Dawn of the Space Age 3D”, “Solar Storms 3D”, “Cosmic Collisions” along with real time 3D Sky Shows. Audience can utilise the headsets for narration selection in Cantonese, Putonghua, Portuguese or English.

One of the exhibitions is devoted to the Rubik’s Cube.  It is a mechanical puzzle invented in 1974 by the Hungarian professor of architecture Ernö Rubik who also happens to be a sculptor. It was then produced internationally since 1980. Over the past 30 years, more than 300 million Cubes were sold worldwide.

With a dual-arm design, the Rubik’s Cube Solver Robot comes with a visual detection system, an analysis system, a transport device and a timer that allows the Robot to solve a scrambled Rubik’s Cube within one and a half minutes. Once the robot receives a Cube, the visual detection system will take images of the Cube in 6 different directions while the built-in analysis system calculates for the fastest way to solve the Cube. The arms of the robot then start solving the Cube according to the analysis. Finally, the robot returns the Cube to the visitor on the conveyor belt while the timer shows the unscrambling time required for solving the Cube.

Rubik’s Cube lovers can either choose to watch the robot perform with great speed and skill or they can challenge the robot to see who can be faster in solving a scrambled Cube!

Macau Science Centre is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Centre closes on Thursdays and Lunar New Year’s Eve and opens on public holidays. Visitors may take buses with route numbers 3A, 8, 10A and 12 towards Kun Lam Ecumenical Centre to the Macao Science Centre, and a paid underground carpark is available to all visiting public.

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