Science On a Sphere in action

Science On a Sphere

“So, what’s that like?”

“Well, it’s just like a six foot sphere floating in the room with all matter of data, animations and video projected onto the surface…”

Science on A Sphere displays the earth
The Earth displayed on Science On a Sphere.

“So,  how does it work? “

“Well, you see, there are four registered projectors and a master computer with special software and some sweet graphics cards…”

Science On a Sphere: How it works
How it works. Image Credit: NASA

“So, where can I see one?”

“There’s over 100 in the world, at museums and science centers and colleges, and you can find a location here.”

Usually this conversation also involves a lot of hand gestures and arm movements.  And furrowed brows all around.  But that’s just how it is with the Sphere, it’s hard to explain.  Seeing is believing.

Science On a Sphere in action
Almost like an astronaut. Almost.

The technology and exhibit called “Science On a Sphere” has an acronym that’s hard to forget: “SOS”.  And, honestly, that makes perfect sense, considering that NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) invented it.   And it all started with a weather balloon.  This Wiki site offers a great background summary.

Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip visit NASA in Greenbelt, MD.  SOS was a must-see.   Image Credit: NASA
Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip visit NASA in Greenbelt, MD. SOS was a must-see. Image Credit: NASA

While SOS was originally created to show scientific data sets of the Earth in their inherently spherical nature, it has morphed into a spectacular teaching tool and an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Science on a Sphere at NASA
The wow factor! Image Credit: NASA
Science On a Sphere at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, MD
The floating wonder. SOS at the Maryland Science Center. Image Credit: David Stroud

SOS can be used in many ways, from a stand alone exhibit to a docent-lead discussion tool to a truly three-dimensional movie screen.  Check out a sample of the films that our team has been integral in creating on our Portfolio page.

When making spherical films, I find that props are a good way to get your head around the endless challenges of creating a seamless experience.  At least that’s my excuse for the growing sphere collection in my studio.  This is one of my favorite hand-held spherical sculptures, a glass globe by Josh Simpson.

Science On a Sphere filmmaker Victoria Weeks
Vicky holding the world in her hands. Well, actually, it’s a glass globe by Josh Simpson. Image Credit: Michael Starobin

And that leads me to the big news for this week!  Check out our latest work in the new spherical film for NASA, called Water Falls, which premieres January 25, 2014 at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY.  Water Falls is all about Earth’s most vital and precious resource and the new NASA mission that will be studying it – from space!

Science on a Sphere movie Water Falls
WATER FALLS. A new movie for Science On a Sphere promoting the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement satellite mission by NASA..
Science On a Sphere Water Falls Videographer Victoria Weeks
WATER FALLS Videographer Victoria Weeks in the field

If you’ve seen one of these in action, you’ll know it’s worth the visit to the closest one you can find. If not, I urge you to check it out.  It’s seriously cool.

SOS Locations

1/27/14 UPDATE:  The event at the Wild Center on Saturday was a smash!  We had a packed room and lots of great discussions before and after each showing.  Here’s a pic – and this one really shows off how engaging the sphere can be!

Science On a Sphere Opening Day of Water Falls at the Wild Center
Water Falls world premier event at the Wild Center on January 25, 2014. Image Credit: Rick Godin


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