“Earthquake” — luckily without an exclamation mark — is the new exhibition and planetarium show at the California Academy of Sciences.
The 8,000-square-foot exhibit, which opened Saturday, includes fossils, maps, useful instructional material, adorable ostrich chicks and “shakehouse” simulations, in a mock Victorian, of the 1906 San Francisco and 1989 Loma Prieta quakes.
The Morrison Planetarium show provides a long-range view of the contrasts between the universe’s slow-motion time, in which tectonic plates shift constantly and without apparent trauma, with the real-time experience of mere months, days or moments in which quakes shock and destroy.
It also features a remarkable re-creation of Market Street on April 18, 1906 — giving visitors an eyewitness experience of The City’s biggest quake in recent history.
Academy engagement officer Elizabeth Bobcock says the presentation’s aim is to show visitors that “seismic phenomena are just one part of a much larger story ... that we live on a markedly dynamic planet.”
Both the exhibit and planetarium presentation describe how the single supercontinent Pangea broke up some 200 million years ago, creating predecessors of today’s northern (Laurasia) and southern (Gondwana) continents.
Ostrich chicks, along with other live animals in “Earthquake,” illustrate the movement of continents: Flightless birds obviously didn’t take to the air to go from land mass to land mass, so their very existence (and variation) provides living proof that the various continents they inhabit once were squished together.
“We are no strangers to the awesome power of earthquakes,” said Greg Farrington, executive director of the Academy, “and by showing visitors the science that underlies these natural events, we want to encourage preparedness and help visitors understand how the great movements of the continents have produced the landscape we call home today and the life around us.”
Where: California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $24.95 to $29.95
Contact: (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org