Philadelphia – City of Science

17Oct11

Philadelphia is a city rich in heritage and culture. Part of that is related to science, with a number of absolutely world class science museums awaiting the visitor

One of the things that Philadelphia is famous for is being the home of Benjamin Franklin. Already guaranteed a place in history for being one of the so-called ‘founding fathers of the United States, Franklin also is of note as an innovator, inventor, and scientist.

Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania and created the first fire department in the state as well as the first public lending library anywhere in America. Inventions attributed to Franklin include the odometer, bifocal eyeglasses and the lightning rod. Franklin’s scientific work included important breakthroughs in the study of electricity.

The legacy of Franklin is celebrated by a museum in Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute, which since   1824 has been an important centre for science education. There are many fascinating exhibits here. The work of Franklin in the field of electricity is celebrated, along with modern applications, which include a ‘sustainable dance floor’ with which the energy of dancers can be used to power the music and the lights.

The Franklin Institute is home to the largest collection of memorabilia relating to Orville and Wilbur Wright anywhere in the world. The Wright Brothers were responsible for the first ever powered flight. There are several complete aircraft including the original Model B Flyer.

Amongst the other attractions on show at the Franklin Institute are one of the original prototypes of the lunar lander. This was originally an exhibit at the World’s Fair of ’66-’67, and it is incredible to reflect on the long past era of space exploration.  The astronomically minded will also appreciate the Fels Planetarium, which was one of the first that was ever built in the USA.

The impact of Benjamin Franklin is also celebrated with the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. This is a huge statue of the man, plus a memorial hall. The statue was completed by James Earl Fraser in 2011 and features prominently in the Nicolas Cage film National Treasure .

Philadelphia also boasts the Academy of Natural Sciences. This was founded in  1812, making it the oldest scientific research institution anywhere in the Americas. It is still active today, and in its time has sponsored expeditions and been involved with all kinds of research into the natural sciences.

The collections hosted at The Academy of Natural Sciences are some of the most important in the world. They include more than 17 million biological specimens. Among the exhibits open to the public are a fantastic dinosaur collection which includes a complete T-Rex fossil

Other highlights include the Mütter Museum, dedicated to things medical, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Those wanting to check out what the city of Philadelphia has to offer them will find out that it is both an exciting and welcoming place. Getting there is straight forward, with those taking flights to New York finding the city just a short hop away.

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