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Melding Pop Culture, Technology At Arizona Science Center

Hoverboard POPnology
(Photo by Mark Brodie - KJZZ)
Great Scott! Marty McFly's Hoverboard From "Back to the Future" at POPnology.

Nintendo is part of a new exhibit making its world premiere at the Arizona Science Center called "POPnology."

"The goal of this exhibit is really to connect our guests with pop culture and the idea that pop culture can influence technology," said Sari Custer, vice president of exhibits and collections at the Arizona Science Center.

The exhibit includes a display of how video game systems have evolved. It also includes telephones that are actually connected to the wall - with cords, and film strip projectors.

It also features the hoverboard from “Back to the Future.”

The exhibit is broken into four categories: how we move, how we connect, how we live and work and how we play. Custer said it shows visitors what’s come before and what could come next. Like, Custer says, the fact that the cell phones in our pockets have more computing power than the entire Apollo mission.

POPnology’s not just about nostalgia for cassettes and really bulky mobile phones. It also looks ahead.

It’s also a place for some companies to show off what they’re working on. Local Motors has the first 3D printed car on display. The company’s Adam Kress said in some ways, the exhibit is kind of like a showroom for his firm.

"We’re getting lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds going to museums and science centers all across North America to check out what we do. So, there’s definitely a big awareness play for us when it comes to what we’re trying to do with POPnology and the vehicles that we’ll debut," he said.

Kress said what’s on display there now is not necessarily what visitors will see in other cities, as the exhibit heads elsewhere.

"Our goal, long term, as POPnonlogy goes on and travels for the next two years or so, is to replace the Strati that’s there now with other vehicles that we create. That won’t happen in the near term, but I could definitely imagine a year from today, or possibly sooner, them having a different Local Motors vehicle to display at their booth than the Strati that’s there now," he said.

The exhibit is described as a living, breathing one it could grow as it moves from city to city. POPnology will be at the Arizona Science Center through mid-May. After that, it’ll move on to New York.

Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.