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Graphic: Press ReleasesGraphic: January
 
Omnimax film showcases the threatening power of natural forces
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The ground moves, mountains explode, the sky turns black and violent. The immense power of nature that helps create life on Earth can also jeopardise it. How do human beings find a way of surviving under these colossal natural forces?

The answer is in the upcoming Omnimax film, "Forces of Nature", to be screened at the Stanley Ho Space Theatre of the Hong Kong Space Museum from February 2 to July 31.

The film will take audiences to experience the Earth's fiercest volcanoes, earthquakes and tornadoes by following scientists on their groundbreaking quests from an active volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat to trembling faultlines in Turkey, and finally on to the notorious "Tornado Alley" of America's Midwest.

Audiences will also learn how scientists risk their lives to understand these fierce natural forces with the hope of helping increase our odds of surviving these events.

For hundreds of years, a volcano called Soufriere Hills on the Caribbean island of Montserrat was dormant. But in 1995, some 12,000 islanders discovered they were living on a time bomb as the volcano could erupt with little or no warning. Dr Marie Edmonds and her colleagues from the British Geological Survey risked their lives to install a laser reflector at the crater of the volcano to detect signs of an eruption before one took place. Eventually, the volcano erupted with deadly cascades of pyroclastic flows racing down the mountain at temperatures as hot as 1,000 degrees F. Fortunately, residents were evacuated in time because of the warnings, with only a few casualties outside the city because some had ignored the warnings.

The North Anatolian Fault, one of the most seismically active faults beneath a heavily populated part of Turkey, can produce a sudden catastrophe - an earthquake. In 1999, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Izmit, Turkey. Twenty thousand buildings were destroyed and the death toll reached 25,000, caused mainly part by sub-standard construction. Geophysicist Dr Ross Stein calculated that the next great quake might strike Istanbul, which had a population of 10 million. Is Istanbul next? If yes, how should the people there prepare?

Some of the most severe storms on Earth are found in a midwestern region of the United States known as "Tornado Alley". In May, 1999, an extraordinary series of tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma and left behind unimaginable destruction. Dr Joshua Wurman and his team, for the first time, succeeded in recording with two Doppler radars the conditions within a storm at the moment the tornado formed. The data collected promises to help unravel the secrets of tornado formation.

The 40-minute Omnimax show will be screened at 1.30pm, 5pm and 8.30pm daily at the Space Museum. The Space Museum is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and on the first two days of the Lunar New Year. Tickets are available at the Space Museum Box Office and at all URBTIX outlets at $24 (front stalls) and $32 (stalls), with half-price concession for full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities.

The Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. For further information, please call 2721 0226 or visit the museum's website at http://hk.space.museum/ .

Ends/Thursday, January 27, 2005
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