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Friday, June 18, 2010

Exhibit lets kids live like Doraemon


Staff writer

Doraemon, a blue, catlike character with a "magic pocket" in the eponymously titled manga/animation series, could have been an inspiration for many of Japan's scientists. For proof, just visit Tokyo's Miraikan (the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation).

News photo
Up, up and away!: A man tries out a real-life interpretation of Doraemon's "take-copter" at a Doraemon-themed exhibition in Tokyo. TOMOKO OTAKE PHOTO

"Doraemon's Scientific Future" is an ongoing exhibition that explains the ties between the 40-year-old series and modern research. It also lets you experience the jaw-dropping results of some of that research — making you feel like Nobita, Doraemon's best friend and the recipient of the robotic cat's magic gadgets.

Take the "take-copter," the handy fanlike device that Doraemon and Nobita put on their heads to fly anywhere they want to. Well, the GEN H-4 is a strap-on, single-person helicopter developed by Nagano Prefecture-based engineer Gennai Yanagisawa. A model of it is on display at the museum, and it comes pretty close to the take-copter.

Or experience the "invisible coat," just like the one Nobita wears. Through a tiny hole on an explanatory board, images of background objects can be seen through the invisibility cloak. The technology, which was recently unveiled by researchers, was made possible by artificial materials called "meta-materials." They change the direction in which light is reflected.

There are many other Doraemon- imagined technologies available to try out, all of them aimed at generating a love of science in children. Hopefully, the exhibit will also impress upon adults that a kid who enjoys far-fetched dreams should be encouraged, not scoffed at.

"Doraemon's Scientific Future" lasts through Sept. 27. Admission for the exhibition is ¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for those aged 18 and younger. For information, call (03) 3570-9151 or visit www.miraikan.jst.go.jp


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