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Exhibit gallery

The crucial feature of the human brain is that it is capable of being creative. It is our creative abilities that make us humans and separate us from animals. Three exhibits demonstrate the scientific content of ‘The Mechanics of Wonder’. The fourth exhibit unfolds the subject of creativity and inventive thinking.

Photo: Ilya Ivanov, The Mechanics of Wonder

Degrees of Separation

The ‘Find Your Network’ exhibit or ‘Degrees of Separation’ projects the idea of networking around the world through handshakes. The six handshake rule claims that any two seemingly perfect strangers on Earth are separated by at most five degrees of shared acquaintances, which implies six levels of connections.

So far, software has established and revealed vague connections between celebrities only. The cynosure of the exhibit is a large hemisphere with a display showing the map of the world, operated from a stand with a control panel. The visitor selects one character from each of the two touch screens on the control desk panel, and the animation begins.

Six steps are not much. This level of separation is not much of an obstacle for us to exchange ideas and collaborate. In a way, the world keeps shrinking as social networks and communication technologies advance. But neurons can do it even more efficiently. On average, brain neurons are separated by 3–4 connections at most.

Photo: Firuz Mirza-Zadа, Degrees of Separation

The Rabbit Hole

‘The Rabbit Hole’ is a space consisting of two parts. The visitor enters a magical forest of zoomed in brain neurons, figuratively represented as a forest. Inside each tree there is a hollow niche that one can peek in and learn how the cell works.

The ‘magic forest’ offers five educating simulators: dynamic, animated capsule-like heads of living creatures that can be turned around to see the surroundings the way animals see it. Even though we can’t imagine how they process information, we can at least try to see the world through their eyes.

Snakes have a unique ability to perceive thermal radiation enabling them to ‘see’ the world around them in absolute darkness. The trick is that rather than visual, their perception is heat- sensitive, thanks to receptors that work like a camera obscura, the prototype of modern cameras.

As to the white shark, it continues to feel its prey even after no longer seeing it, using something like electrolocation. Among the countless creatures of the animal realm, the white shark stands out as one of the most striking examples of perfect coordination of the senses. The hunting technique of this marine predator is by far superior to any of the most sophisticated computer attack techniques.

Photo: Firuz Mirza-Zada, The Rabbit Hole

Horses also differ in how they see objects by having the ability to see with each eye (monocular vision) independently so they may see what is happening on each side of their body. A horse’s eyes are located on either side of the head giving them a wide 350-degree view, which is vital for a potentially prey animal. Such a peculiar vision, however, has blind spots that can pose a risk to the animal.

Bees see the world as a mosaic picture. Overall, bees have five eyes: three simple ones that capture movement and lighting, and two compound ones, consisting of facets. Such organs enable the bees to see the ultraviolet rays emanating from the plants pollinated by insects, and to smell the flowering at a distance of up to 1 km.

A chameleon can point one eye forward with another being pointed backward. This lizard has many ingenious optical abilities, with nodal point separation being the simplest one. This aptitude is actually controlled by two hemispheres of the brain and has a very fine tuning.

People rely on their eyesight. Throughout the evolution, vision has been the primary source of sensory information for humans. Even the descriptions we tend to use are mostly visual. We are in the habit of asking first what it looks like, rather than how it smells or feels. This is why our vision so dramatically affects our thinking.

Photo: Anton Khokhryakov, Russia Pavilion

Tag of Words

The ‘Smart Neurons’ exhibit or ‘Tag of Words’ demonstrates how our brain reacts to the world around us, selects objects for research and remembers them through its nerve cells.

Imagine an apple. So crisp and crunchy. Distinctively looking. With its recognizable dark seeds inside. With or without stalk. It smells autumn. You may remember the anecdote of an apple that once fell on Isaac Newton’s head. However, a soft seedless apple would be difficult to imagine, because the human brain has no single neuron or even a localized group of nerve cells that would be responsible for visualizing an apple. Instead, we have hypernetworks of neurons responsible for any concepts and associations that arise in the human mind.

The exhibit consists of a head divided into 2 parts. One part shows sagittal sections of the human brain. The second provides interactive activities. The visitor selects words on the screen from the tag cloud that imitates the way the neural network reacts. The task is to visualize the idea that one neuron cannot be accessed as they always make up a network.

Photo: Firuz Mirza-Zada, Tag of Words

Russia Creates

This book delivers an enlightening interactive account of the Russia’s creative thought from Peter the Great up to now. One of the reference points in the Russia Pavilion, it is especially popular with children who are eager to learn something new, and follows the main theme of participation in the Expo: ‘Creative Mind: Defining the Future’.

With a sleight of hand, each visitor can learn about the past and present of Russian creative thought in the most diverse areas: space, science, medicine, fine arts, music, theater, cinema, fashion, gastronomy, literature and business. The contemporary creative industry is represented by vivid examples of ongoing projects, such as Russia Creates.

Photo: Firuz Mirza-Zada, Russia Creates

The author of the concept and design of ‘The Mechanics of Wonder’, ‘Degrees of Separation’, ‘The Rabbit Hole’, ‘Tag of Words’ — Konstantin Petrov, Simpateka Entertainment Group
Business and cultural event facilitator for the Russia Pavilion at Expo 2020 — Sergei Kolushev, Eventica Communication
Founder and mastermind of Russia Creates — Sergei Kolushev, Eventica Communication

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