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How to kill time in Philadelphia Jul 31

If you read the previous post, you read a few things about getting your passport. The process has two stages—give them your info, and pick up the passport. You can have several hours between those stages.

The passport place (the US Custom House) is in the “center” of Center City, called Old City. I wrote about my lunch on my personal blog, Mushrooms to Motorcycles, but I walked around a bit, too. Walking is the way to do Old City. The streets are narrow, and some are cobblestone (read rough and bumpy). Besides almost everything you’d want to do has to be on foot, like explore interesting shops and visit historic sights. I’m not going to say much about the historic buildings except that they are all over the place.

I discovered the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Specifically its museum, which is free and on the first floor. They have a library, too if you’re deeply into chemistry, but the museum is pretty interesting all by itself. They have displays of lots of instruments and equipment, with ample and well-written descriptions. One item is the “cooker” in which they made the first plastic, bakelite. It’s a three-foot high egg-shaped cast iron vessel that held steam under a whole one hundred pounds of pressure. Their display of the elements is fascinating and multimedia. Another display tells biographies of chemists from the early middle ages to modern times. They even got the roles of the discoverers of DNA correct. (The gave the woman her due credit.)

This spectrometer was cobbled together from parts of other devices by some grad students. This is one end of the whole instrument.

Arrive at noon and you get a tour. I just missed it, but it was still an interesting browse. Do you have a favorite obscure place to visit? Tell us in the comments.

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Category: Adventure
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