The Science Tunnel: An Exhibition of the Max Planck Society Will Make Its U.S. Debut In Palm Beach County at the South Florida Science Museum

September 22, 2008



At a press conference held today attended by nearly 50 government, community and business leaders, the Max Planck Society, South Florida Science Museum and Business Development Board announced that the internationally-renowned Science Tunnel an exhibition of the Max Planck Society will make its U.S. debut in Palm Beach County. Bank of America is the presenting sponsor of the exhibition. It will open on January 16, 2009 inside 10,000-square-foot tented space on the grounds of the South Florida Science Museum in West Palm Beach.

The Science Tunnel, a sophisticated, interactive multimedia show that offers visitors a fascinating trip into the realm of scientific discoveries, debuted in Ludwigshafen, Germany in 2005, and has traveled to some of the great cities of the world including Tokyo; Singapore; Shanghai; Brussels; Johannesburg; Seoul; and Berlin. Palm Beach County, Fla. – home to the new Max Planck Florida Institute – will be its first U.S. location.

In other cities, the Science Tunnel has attracted 50,000 to 170,000 visitors, including students and school groups, during its exhibition period. The School District of Palm Beach County and its Superintendent, Dr. Art Johnson, have pledged to make this exhibition part of elementary school FCAT preparation.

“With the ever increasing presence of the life science industry in Palm Beach County, the relationships among the corporate, scientific and educational communities will be increasingly important,” said Dr. Johnson. “This press conference is a symbolic kickoff of that journey.”

Frank Brogan, president of Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and Dr. Dennis Gallon, president of Palm Beach Community College, also pledged to support attendance by their students and faculty. It is the exhibition’s educational component that attracted Bank of America to be the presenting sponsor.

“The Science Tunnel will not only act as a platform from which to continue to launch the life sciences sector that is becoming an economic engine for Palm Beach, but it will encourage thousands of young people to explore science through engaging and interactive exhibits,” said Fab Brumley, Palm Beach County Market President for Bank of America. “Technology and science are an important part of Florida’s economy, and at Bank of America, we believe in supporting the communities in which we do business. We need more young people to begin seeing themselves pursuing careers in these fields, which will attract high-paying jobs and create a more vibrant economy in Florida.”

Spanning more than a half-mile, the special exhibition features video stations and hands-on exhibits designed to spark engagement and curiosity among even the youngest minds. Visitors can observe dancing atoms and molecules at work; discover the roots of human culture; fight a virus before it infects the body; or experience visuals that reflect a dash through the city of Tübingen, Germany on a bicycle at the speed of light.

Most of the unique pictures, videos, computer simulations and exhibits within the Science Tunnel come from the 80 Max Planck institutes in Germany and abroad. CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Fraunhofer Society and other institutions have loaned valuable components.

“Science education is an important component of the Max Planck Society’s philosophy and it’s an important dimension of what the Max Planck Florida Institute will bring to Palm Beach County,” said Dr. Claudia Hillinger of the Max Planck Society. “Essentially, our education programs are an investment in our future scientists – both here and around the world. It is this platform that attracted us to the South Florida Science Museum, which for nearly 50 years has dedicated itself to enriching and engaging students in Palm Beach County and beyond.”

“We are very excited at the opportunity to host this internationally-renowned exhibition at the South Florida Science Museum,” said Mary Sellers, South Florida Science Museum CEO. “With Palm Beach County growing as a scientific hub, this exhibition reinforces the importance of creating world-class science education experiences for our community and is consistent with our mission to excite curiosity and further the understanding and appreciation of science and technology.”

The Science Tunnel an exhibition of the Max Planck Society presented by Bank of America is the area’s first significant exposure to the work and scope of the Max Planck Society. Last July, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners approved the allocation of $86.9 million to build and operate a 100,000 square foot biomedical research facility called the Max Planck Florida Institute, separate and distinct from the Max Planck Society. In addition to County funding, the Florida Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development signed an agreement for $94 million from the state’s Innovation Incentive Fund in March. Max Planck Florida will focus primarily on bioimaging, and be located near Scripps Florida on six acres at FAU’s MacArthur campus in Jupiter. It is expected to support the creation of more than 1,800 jobs — both directly and indirectly — over the next two decades, and ultimately generate more than $2 billion in economic activity.

“Our hope is that our entire community will be energized by the addition of the Max Planck Florida Institute and the Science Tunnel exhibit to Palm Beach County,” said Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board. “Not only will Max Planck bring economic and scientific benefits to our community, but the world will now recognize Palm Beach County as the home of innovation and discovery in the eastern United States.”

Founded in 1948, the Max Planck Society operates 80 institutes in Germany and around Europe, with a staff of nearly 13,000 and an additional 12,000 researchers and visiting scientists pioneering scientific research in areas ranging from astronomy to the humanities. Among its achievements, Max Planck has 17 Nobel Laureates and most recently developed the sensor currently being used on the robotic arm on NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander. The Max Planck Florida Institute plans to advance the world’s knowledge of bioimaging by using the most advanced techniques for visualizing microscopic molecular processes.

For more information on the Science Tunnel an exhibition of the Max Planck Society presented by Bank of America, visit www.sciencetunnel.com or contact the South Florida Science Museum at 561.832.1988 and www.sfsm.org.

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