LOU’S VIEWS: When Earth attacks

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Lou HarryWhile Freddie Krueger and Jason Voorhees might provide cinematic scares, they don’t hold a candle to the terror evoked by a force that goes by the benevolent name of Mother Nature.

Whether wreaking havoc via tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or some other form of cataclysm, nature has proven time and time again that we never can be completely comfortable on this planet of ours.

In one of the more science-focused exhibitions it has featured in quite a while, the Indiana State Museum is housing an interactive, informative tutorial on those subjects titled “Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters.” The exhibition runs through May 29.

Created by the Field Museum in Chicago, “Nature Unleashed” doesn’t pull punches or soften the impact of its message. Destruction is everywhere you turn, whether it’s surveying mangled items that partially made it through the 2007 Greensburg, Kansas, tornado, listening to survivors of Hurricane Katrina tell their stories and seeing artwork by kids from New Orleans, surrounding yourself with tornado video, or assessing the predictability—and the unpredictability—of tectonic shifts.

ae-natureN91158-677d-15col.jpg Twisted remnants of past disasters are a somber reminder of the power of “Nature Unleashed.” (Photo courtesy of Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites)

Yes, visitors can try to understand the differences between different volcano variations and get a quick lesson in the distinction between primary and secondary waves. Ever touched lava? Here’s your chance. Want to see—but not touch—household objects encased in lava from Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii? This show’s got them. Want to mitigate your fears a bit with a beginner’s understanding of why volcanoes are actually important to our survival here? That’s included as well. And there’s a cool interactive where you jump on a scale that records your seismic activity.

ae-nature-press-photo-volcano-with-caption-1col.jpg Visitors can change the elements to influence video volcano eruptions. (Photo courtesy of Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites)

But you’re never more than a glance away from the terror this planet can unleash. Unless you’ve harbored dreams of being a storm chaser, the result is more unsettling than an overzealous TV weather talent boasting of the virtues of a Doppler device.

If this show doesn’t unleash enough dangerous weather for you, consider a visit to the Imax theater in the same building. There, the documentary “Extreme Weather” plays through the end of May.•


This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

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