New Interactive Heart Set to Debut at Science and Industry

Interactive model mimics visitors heartbeats

By Andrew Greiner
|  Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009  |  Updated 8:09 PM CDT
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An 8-foot wide, fully functioning, interactive mechanical representation of a human heart beats and shows valves open and close with electrical pulses.

An 8-foot wide, fully functioning, interactive mechanical representation of a human heart beats and shows valves open and close with electrical pulses.

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MSI Gets Heart Transplant

It's out with the old and in with a new interactive heart model at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.
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The Museum of Science and Industry has a lot of heart.

The museum gave a sneak peek today of its $1 million, 3-D human heart exhibit that will replace an older plaster walk through model that has been on display since 1954.

But the new heart is not so much an upgrade as a complete transplant.

It’s an 8-foot wide, fully functioning, interactive mechanical representation of a human heart that beats and shows valves open and close along with electrical pulses.

"We hope that people on the main floor will look up and see this great, beating heart and think, 'Wow, I have to get up there and see that thing up close,' " said the heart’s designer, Tom Hennes.

Once they do make their way up to the heart, visitors will have a chance to grab hold of a pair of grips that allow the big heart to mimic the beat of their littler hearts. Otherwise the heart beats at a steady 60 beats per minute on its own.

"Nobody has ever built something like this before," said Hennes, "but this museum has this never-has-been-done-before sensibility that seems to be in its DNA, willing to bring people, ideas and material from all over the world to get something completely new."

The heart, which is made of a metallic shell that displays projected images, took two years to build. It will be open to the public on Oct. 2 as part of a larger, $21 million exhibit called “You! The Experience.”

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