Governmental Zombie Prevention & Mind Your Brain

I’m not big on Halloween, but I love science and well-structured, thoughtful events. The Halloween Night for adults at the Finnish Science Centre Heureka was not only enjoyable, it touched on several of my fields of interest, including edutainment, feelings and some mild discomfort.

The Science Centre was teeming with people in fancy dress, spooky lighting, gloomy music and naturally Halloween-appropriate decorations. Massive eyeballs were hanging from the ceiling, skeletons from the walls. Pop-up stalls included one for decorating your own tombstone (macabre for some, I suppose). We skipped the mutilate-a-children’s toy-into-a-monster-exercise, however.

Prepare for brain munchers

The Centre’s Auditorium hosted talks all night. Again, biomechanical warfare or the most disgusting parasites on the planet did not really float my boat that evening. However Member of the Finnish Parliament, Olli-Poika Parviainen, was giving a presentation on how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse from a national security standpoint.

…Wait, what? Why is a politician speaking about zombies at a Halloween event?

A zombie apocalypse includes traits of several different types of national emergencies, Parviainen explained. These include pandemies, major accidents, weaponised conflicts and crises in international security. Note the Parliament’s logo on the slide.

Presumably edutainment (=educational entertainment), my dear Watson. At Parliament, Parviainen is a member of The Administration Committee, which deals with matters of state, regional and local administration, including emergency and rescue services. As a self-confessed pop-culture nerd, Parviainen is thus pretty capable of speaking on the topic. He is also an engaging speaker who can hold a punch-line, so the 30 minutes his slot consisted of flew by. Now I know that a massive zombie apocalypse will probably lead to the internet shutting down nation-wide in about a day. And when you cannot access the internet, good old radio is your friend, so keep those batteries in stock just in case. There is also a bunker beneath the Finnish Parliament building, apparently, equipped to house all 200 MPs and others close-by if things get really bad in downtown Helsinki. How thoughtful.

After accidentally learning loads about prevention of nation-wide peril, we decided to give up having too much fun and headed for an actual exhibition.


Mind Your Brain

Mind Your Brain (Finnish: Aivot narikasta!) is an interactive exhibition that will remain open in Heureka until January 2020. Its various games and educational challenges are supposed to encourage visitors to wrack their brain and be more mentally active. This is said to promote long-term health.

At the exhibition door, those who enter are given a plastic-electronic artificial brain to carry. The brain flashes in different colors when placed on a platform in front of every exhibition piece. The games and exercises can only be played with the brain in place, so imagine our sadness when our first brain turned out to be broken! Luckily we got it switched out for a functioning one.

The exhibition was engaging and fun, touching on topics such as relaxation, dexterity, the vein structure in the brain, functions of different parts of the brain presented by a massive stuffed fabric brain sliced in two, and the effects of a cerebral stroke. Being Halloween night, the exhibition was packed with people. We did end up queueing quite a bit for the brain platforms and didn’t have the energy to visit every part of the exhibition. Of the exercises we did do, I enjoyed watching video clips and being told to show where on the body I felt the emotion stirred by each clip. As an occasional hypochondriac, I can see the benefit of this exercise for those suffering from anxiety. It can be helpful to practice how experiencing an emotion can cause physical reactions, without there being anything actually wrong with your body.

There are no wrong or right answers to the feeling exercise. Different situations cause different emotions.

Having lived through a benign brain tumour, the large stuffed brain with explanatory fabric tags felt partly like an old friend and partly a bit too close to home. All in all, I was glad to be here to experience an exhibition on the brain. And to spent to evening with dear friends, who I get to see too rarely.

Tikkurila train station has a funky neon sign. Here ends my report!

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