In Bellingham, the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention holds thousands of radios, the world’s first electrical instrument, Edison light bulbs, and even a hair-raising static electricity room. To the south, spend a day at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, which offers everything from a tropical butterfly house to meet-a-scientist Saturdays. Nearby, the Museum of Pop Culture brings science of the fictional sort to the forefront with exhibits about everything from Star Trek to Blade Runner. Come summer, Spokane’s Mobius Science Center offers “school’s out science” workshops, including a series on CSI evidence, and exhibits year-round on everything from crystal growth to human anatomy.
Central Washington is largely dedicated to the atomic age and gravitational waves. The Manhattan Project Hanford Site offers tours of the reservation where some of the plutonium used in the 1945 Fat Man bomb was produced. Or visit The Reach, an interpretive center and museum in Richland that tells stories of the nuclear age and the wild lands of the Hanford Reach National Monument.
For space buffs, there’s Richland’s LIGO Hanford Observatory, where scientists are busy detecting ripples in the fabric of space and time. Using lasers, mirrors, and 2.5-mile-long arms of tubes and tunnels, they measure gravitational disturbances that originate in space. LIGO offers public tours twice a month as well as annual stargazing events.
--Julie H. Case