Silicon Graphics, TIME Sponsor "The Robot Zoo"

Silicon Graphics and TIME magazine are jointly sponsoring "The Robot Zoo," a traveling exhibit that applies biomechanics and powerful computers to reveal how animals function. By observing giant robot animals in action, students can discover how and why a chameleon changes colors, a housefly walks on the ceiling and a grasshopper hops.

Demonstrations in the 5,000 square-foot exhibit are brought to life by Silicon Graphics O2 workstations, which feature a Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) that supports advanced 3D graphics, image processing, video and compression. Machinery in the robots simulates the body parts of animals: pistons represent bones and joints, funnels represent nostrils, etc.

For example, a six-foot-long squid with 18-foot tentacles grips a struggling fish and opens its mouth to expose a spinning food grinder. Visitors at an adjacent O2 workstation can manipulate the nerves and muscles of a digital squid and, through computational fluid dynamics (CFD), see how far the animal propels itself. The CFD process is used in industries such as aerospace, automotive manufacturing, construction and medicine.

"With a cast of dynamic, mechanical animals, The Robot Zoo is a tremendous vehicle to capture children's imaginations and ignite their interest in science and technology," said Edward R. McCracken, chairman and CEO of Silicon Graphics. "We're proud to join TIME in sharing this compelling, interactive exhibit with kids of all ages across the country."

Two sets of The Robot Zoo, based on the Marshall Editions book of the same name, will visit roughly 30 major science and natural history museums across the U.S. over the next five years. Through early January, the exhibits will be open to the public at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif., and The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, Penn. In May 1998, they'll move to the Cranbrook Institute of Science near Detroit, Mich., and the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.

Introduced in October 1996, the O2 desktop family has received numerous awards from leading trade publications. It comes standard with 32-bit, texture-mapped, double-buffered graphics and full-motion JPEG video compression. Silicon Graphics, Inc., Mountain View, CA, (415) 960-1980, www.sgi.com.

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This article originally appeared in the 11/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.

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