Will an iPad Mini be so obsolete in 25 years that scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory won’t know how to operate it?
Officials at the laboratory aren’t taking any chances on the ever-changing technology and, in selecting the contents of a time capsule, decided to include an Apple instruction booklet and charger.
The time capsule was dedicated Saturday during Family Day on the north Richland campus, an event celebrating Battelle’s 50th anniversary of managing the national lab.
The iPad Mini is loaded with historical PNNL photos and newspaper clippings for the anniversary. Joining the tablet in the capsule are books written by PNNL staff and products researched or developed in the lab, like cellphone microscopes, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and injectable fish tags and sensor fish.
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The national lab also held a contest for kids to guess where they think technology will be in the future. Those top entries have been placed in the capsule, which soon will be installed in one of the facilities.
Saturday’s event was all about the kids, showing them what Mom or Dad do at the office, and helping them to better understand the importance of chemistry, environmental sciences and data analytics, and how work done in the Tri-Cities is having an effect around the nation and the world.
Normally, visitors to the PNNL campus need a security badge to enter buildings because of Department of Energy security requirements.
However, on Saturday, family members and retirees were welcome to tour most buildings, including the Aquatic Research Laboratory and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, during the unique event.
Karen Blasdel, community relations manager, estimated that 3,000 people participated in the various activities and enjoyed a catered lunch while trying to get a break in the shade from the 105-degree heat.
The last Family Day was a decade ago and, though the lab has a high number of staff who have worked there for a long time, Blasdel said the event also was great to show newer employees and their families how much they are appreciated.
Participants were encouraged to browse the science demonstrations and other activities on tables that lined Innovation Boulevard.
Scott Smith, a research scientist, taught people about vacuums and air pressure.
Using a soda can filled with water atop a hot plate, Smith explained how molecules are everywhere in the air, but they are removed from inside the can once the water heats up and is condensed. When he quickly dunked the can upside down into a bowl of ice water, the pressure from the molecules on the outside crushed the can.
Smith said he was having fun with the experiment because a key to the learning process is keeping things simple.
“I don’t think science has to be abstract or complex,” he said.
Steve Lindemann, a microbiologist, was joined by his wife, Terryn, and their children: Grace, Greta, Zeke, Elias and Isaac.
The West Richland family has peeked into Dad’s office in the past with special visitor passes, but on Saturday the kids, ages 3 to 10, enjoyed looking at slides through microscopes and seeing ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.
Lindemann said he liked that Battelle went to the effort to organize the event so family members could get hands on with science.
“My kids have a lot of opportunity because they live with a nerd, but it’s another way we can let them explore and exercise their curiosity and learn about the world,” he said.