ICT Engineering – Gediminas

Practical placement in Kolkata, India

Birla Industrial & Technological Museum + Birla Planetarium

The new building of Birla Industrial and Technological Museum

The new building of Birla Industrial and Technological Museum

Again, Kolkata scores by having the first Industrial & Technological Museum in India and the second largest planetarium in the World. Sure enough I had to visit both places and I was not dissapointed. Even though it’s smaller than Science City, it has so many exhibits and so much condensed information that it’s impossible to see everything in just one day. Also, the food in the museums’ canteen was amazing.

Birla Industrial and & Technological Museum

First off, some advice if you’re going there:

  1. Get there as early as possible, because the museum opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 5:30 PM. The only way you can see all the shows in one day is if you come there and by the tickets around 10:30 AM.
  2. Don’t read this post, because it has so many pictures that when you’ll get there you’ll feel as if you been there before. Of course, to fully appreciate the exhibits in there, you still need to see and touch them, but the abundance of pictures in this post might spoil it for you, so stop reading now.

Seriously, I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to keep my posts shorter by adding more pictures, but it seems that it has been counter-productive as the number of pictures per post has increased dramatically. Even if a picture would be worth only 10 words, this post would have way over 9000.

The Shows

If you get there early you have the choice of getting a ticket for every possible show and you’ll spend the whole day going from one auditorium to the other:

Tickets to shows at BITM

“Jackpot!”

Unfortunately, most of the shows are either in Hindi or Bengali, but being determined to see every show they had to offer, I attended them all (I missed the very first show of the day the first time I went there).

Here, I’m going to cover only the shows that were either in English or worth seeing no matter what language.

Coal mines

Hosted in English. You are shown around a mock-up of a real coal mine, and told about the mining process and the types of equipment used. It’s an interesting tour even if you have no interest in mining whatsoever:

Miners and equipment

Miners and equipment

Old-school mining

Old-school mining

New-school mining

New-school mining

3D Show

It featured 4 short animations about different animals living their natural habitat, just playing around, until humans came with their chain-saws and whatnot. The only thing that was a little bit annoying were the dots on the screen which had nothing to do with the animation except for ruining the 3D effect.

SOS Planet poster

SOS Planet poster

Dots on the screen

Dots on the screen

Backstage

Backstage

Fun Science

Yes, they used the words “fun” and “science” in one sentence. Hosted in Bengali or Hindi (depending on the audience), but even if you don’t understand anything, you will still learn about some problems and their fun solutions.

Fun Science

Fun Science

Volunteer involvement

Volunteer involvement

Balloon Kabab

Balloon Kabab

Bubble Show

Hosted in Hindi, but has a lot of English in it, so the result is – Hinglish. You don’t need to understand much to appreciate the beauty and features of soap bubbles displayed in the show. Also, if you’re the only foreigner in the audience, you might get invited to the stage to help the host end the show.

Bubble Show

Bubble Show

Surface tension

Surface tension

A girl inside a bubble

A girl inside a bubble

Taramandal (Planetarium) Show

Hosted in Hindi, Bengali and English. Not quite like the real Birla Planetarium, because you have to go inside of a big “bathura“, but the program of the show is almost the same as in the real planetarium (check the bottom of this post) and only for a fraction of the price.

Outside of the Taramandal Show

“The show is where?!”

Extra: Engineering and Science Fair

One of the days when I was visiting the museum, an annual Science and Engineering fair was held. Unfortunately, not all the students presenting their ideas knew English, but the English-speaking ones had some clever inventions to show and were willing to talk about them with anyone who was interested. The main themes were sustainability, recycling, automation.

Science and Engineering Fair entrance

Science and Engineering Fair entrance

Auto-rotating solar panel

Auto-rotating solar panel

An electricity generating stair-case

An electricity generating stair-case

Home appliance control over a phone call

Home appliance control over a phone call

Yet another home appliance control over a phone call

Yet another home appliance control over a phone call

Urine powered cell phone charger

Urine powered cell phone charger

Automated traffic control

Automated traffic control

Automated watering system

Automated watering system

Utilization of polluted air

Utilization of polluted air

The Galleries

New building:

Popular Science

This gallery was a lot like the Dynamotion Hall in Science City, except it’s smaller and some of the exhibits were different. It had the same problem though – some of the exhibits were out-of-order.

Popular Science gallery

“Now where did I put my keys…”

Video racing

Video racing

Pin Screen

My palm under the Pin Screen

Snake pendulum

Snake pendulum

Blower ball control

“The exhibit that never gets old.”

3D Mars panorama

3D Mars panorama

Children’s Gallery

This one was clearly for children below my age, but since I set out to see everything, I had to go through it.

A train with actual steam

A train with actual steam

Mirror Zone

“I’m not going in there.”

Photo board

Photo board

A fun self-torture mechanism

A fun self-torture mechanism

Human anatomy

“I’m sure the children love this.”

Play Zone

“Back in my day, children played football outside.”

Life Science

Not the most popular gallery, but it has many things you don’t see every day. It was the first time I saw a real human brain in jar.

Slimy Snails

“Most honest title ever.”

Aquarium Life

“That feeling when you recognize some of the fish…”

Mosquito

“Biggest mosquito ever.”

Vertebrate dissections

“Aaand there goes my dinner…”

DNA Model

“Not the prettiest DNA.”

Processor for perception

“Brainzzz…”

Mock-up Coal Mine

I listed it here, because it’s considered to be a part of the old building, but you cannot enter it without a guide so I’m not going to put more pictures of this gallery in this section.

Old building:

A World in Darkness

This was the first time I ever heard of a museum gallery for the blind (and it’s a bit ironic that I’ve uploaded pictures of it). It had maps, exhibits about the weather and cloud formation, planets and so on. When you touch certain parts of an exhibit, you activate a voice telling you information about the region you currently placed your finger on. Some exhibits had a phone hook through which a voice would describe what is displayed.

A bust of Louis Braille

A bust of Louis Braille

Physical map of India

Physical map of India

Planets of the Solar System

Planets of the Solar System

Fascinating Physics

Probably the best gallery in the museum. It has abundant information about laws of physics and famous physicists. It even had a shrine dedicated to Albert Einstein.

A shrine for Albert Einstein

A shrine for Albert Einstein

Plum Pudding Model

Plum Pudding Model

Einstein and Tagore

“I’m living in the city of the guy who knew a guy.”

Famous Indian physicists

Famous Indian physicists

The Big Bang

“The Big Bang – still a theory.”

Heisenberg

“Tribute to Breaking Bad

Transport

This section would probably be very appealing to car enthusiasts, as it has a display of old cars and engines as well interactive exhibits allowing you to see how the engines work internally.

Wheeled Cart and Chariot

Wheeled Cart and Chariot

Transport in the Himalayan Region

Transport in the Himalayan Region

The 18th Century Kolkata

The 18th Century Kolkata

Kolkata Tramways

Kolkata Tramways

Bicycles

“A section for Danes.”

Big Boy

“Best locomotive name.”

G class locomotive in India

“G class.”

The Turtle used for first underwater travel

“If it looks stupid, but it works, it ain’t stupid.”

Boeing 707 model

Boeing 707 model

Rolls Royce Phantom - I

Rolls Royce Phantom – I

Kolkata Metro model

Kolkata Metro model

Kolkata Metro map

Kolkata Metro map

Motive Power

This section is all about how humans utilized forces of nature for their own gain. Again, the models in this gallery were highly detailed.

Muscle power

Muscle power

Advanced use of muscle power

Advanced use of muscle power

Muscle power of animals

Muscle power of animals

Model of Watt's Steam Engine

Model of Watt’s Steam Engine

Thermal power station model

Thermal power station model

Internal Combustion Engine Cycles

Internal Combustion Engine Cycles

Wind Farm

“A bit different from Denmark.”

Geothermal power station model

Geothermal power station model

Solar powered house model

Solar powered house model

Biotechnology

The spinning DNA model was captivating, the information – intriguing and the Walk-trough Cell was awesome.

DNA Model

“A much tidier DNA Model.”

Discovery of Cells

Discovery of Cells

Eat bananas to prevent diseases

“Disease prevention? Eat a banana.”

Vegetarian cheese

Vegetarian cheese

Genetically modified tomato

“The Flavr Savr.”

Enzymatic digestion

Enzymatic digestion

Walk-through cell

Walk-through cell

Right side

Right side

Left side

Left side

Mathematics

This section might seem boring to those who would think that it’s all about complicated calculations portrayed in a dull way, but actually this section has a lot of fascinating exhibits. The history of numbers, the geometry section and Brahma’s Discs were all fascinating. There was also a Math Hall where lectures happen, but it’s not something you can buy a ticket for.

The Hindu-Arabic Numerals

The Hindu-Arabic Numerals

"Roman numbers were not convenient."

“Roman numbers were not convenient.”

Function Generator

Function Generator

Positional Number Systems

“There are 10 types of people…”

Empty Math Hall

Empty Math Hall

Pascal and Ramanujan

Pascal and Ramanujan

Pythagoras Theorem

“A better explanation.”

Brahma's Disc

“Many video games use this.”

 
Brahma's Disc description

“[…] the world will vanish!”

Metals

This was a section to which I had no relation at all, but the detailed models are worth seeing.

A blacksmith

A blacksmith

Brass Industry

Brass Industry

Blast Furnace

Blast Furnace

Electric arc furnace

Electric arc furnace

The Future of Metals

The Future of Metals

Aluminum products

Aluminum products

Electricity

A gallery with exhibits of the features of electricity and magnetism. Fairly interesting, but most of the exhibits were out-of-order.

Rising Arc

“Took a while to get this picture.”

Lines of Forces

Lines of Forces

Transformer

“I know a Decepticon when I see one.”

Television

I enjoyed this section a lot, because of how the history was written, the display of old technology used for displaying images and the studio where you could see how a “green screen” works.

A Green Screen studio

A Green Screen studio

Analog studio

Analog studio

Editing room

Editing room

Mechanical Television

Mechanical Television

Television Milestones

Television Milestones

Vintage Valves

Vintage Valves

Remote Control

“Remote Control – Lazy Bone!”

Roots of the word 'Television'

“Danes call it fjernsyn.”

First countries to have television

First countries to have television

Extra: The Canteen

This also deserves a mention, because the food there is cheap and delicious. After my first visit I was looking forward to eating there again and the second time the food was different in a way that it was even better than the first time.

The cashier of the canteen

The cashier of the canteen

Probably the best rice + subzi + daal + chutney in Kolkata

Probably the best rice + subzi + daal + chutney in Kolkata

A receipt for the veg. meal

“Almost like in The Simpsons.”

Birla Planetarium

The front of Birla Planetarium

The front

The back of Birla Planetarium

The back

Yuri Gagarin

The first man in space

I expected the planetarium to have a museum part as well, but you might want to know that people go there only to see the show. There are two scheduled shows in English every day. If you want to get tickets you should be by the entrance at least 30 min before the show.

The show is narrated live and lasts for 30 minutes. It depicts the rising and setting of the sun, the planets which are visible to the naked eye and some of the constellations. The size of the of dome and projector was  grand, but you’re not allowed to take any pictures inside (the inside looks like this).

Also, you’re expected to leave soon after the show ends, so if you’re not quick, you will not get see all the exhibits that they have and read about famous astronomers in the small museum section at the back of the building.

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