Scientists from fifteen countries: the Netherlands, the United States, Great Britain, Yugoslavia, France, Austria, Israel, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, the U. S. S. R. and Belgium, have joined forces to create the International Science Palace.
The field of science is too extensive to be covered in a single exhibition; the presentation here is therefore limited to the fundamentals of physics, chemistry and biology and comprises four classes:
the Atom: nuclear physics and atomistics
the Molecule: general, mineral and organic chemistry
the Crystal: solid state physics
the Living Cell: biology of the animal and plant cell.
Each of these classes informs you only about the pure scientific notions that are specific to it, the technique itself being excluded from the presentation. You will find the applications of the scientific data presented in the Palais de la Science in the respective pavilions of the participating countries.
The four classes together form a synthesis that guides your journey from the elementary particles to life, from the simple to the complex; this makes it easier for you to understand the essential idea: the unity of science and the interdependence of the various scientific disciplines.
The overall presentation of the pavilion is designed to appeal to both the scientist and the layman. Demonstrations and experiments bring the basic scientific concepts to life. Depending on your personal inclination, you can walk through the popularisation section along one of the two main sides of the palace or linger in the somewhat secluded areas devoted to more advanced science.
But before entering the exhibition proper, you have walked through the entrance hall and may have noticed the symbolic representation of the object of each of the four classes as well as a fresco of physical frequencies, covering the field of cosmic radiation, gamma and X-rays, visible light, radio waves and audible vibrations.
Each of the four classes has a space of more than 1,000 m2 where it presents recent acquisitions in its own field at a high scientific level. These complement other discoveries on display nearby, which are more traditional and therefore more accessible to the non-specialist public,
The 'Atom' class obviously deals with the atom and its nucleus, radioactive elements, nuclear reactions and, in particular, the thermonuclear reactions that generate solar energy. Among other things, you will see original documents on the history of radioactivity, models of atoms and demonstrations of nuclear reactions. You will see how solar energy can be used.
In the "Crystal" class, you will learn about the structure and development of crystals and the profound difference between crystallised and amorphous materials. Minerals of all sizes, weighing up to 300 kg, and numerous everyday objects illustrate the information provided. A large crystal model with a side length of 4 m and containing some 800 lamps shows the elements of the crystal and the curious phenomenon of electron migration.
The "Molecule" class illustrates the two aspects of modern chemistry: analysis and synthesis. Analytical methods aim to determine the usual components of mixtures, i.e. the molecules, their structure, the nature and mode of assembly of the constituent atoms.
Synthesis, on the other hand, shows you how molecules of increasing complexity have been constructed from simple molecules and, in particular, how the properties of artificial macromolecules approach or exceed those of natural bodies.
You will see in particular the movements of the atoms making up the molecules and the projection on a television screen of Brownian motion. You will discover how vitamins were isolated and then synthesised.
In the "Living Cell" class, you will learn about chromosomes, the laws of inheritance and blood groups. A continuous film shows the complete process of cell division. The most important phenomena that can only be seen under the microscope are made visible to you by a colour television set of a prototype never seen before.
You can make your visit even more fruitful by watching a synthetic film which, starting from the phenomena of raw matter, leads to those of life by featuring the prodigious energy released by the nuclear reactions of fission and fusion.
The film is shown continuously in a 600-seat cinema in the palace.
Short films presented by the participating countries comment on the concepts proposed in the four classes. They are shown in three small rooms, one of which is set up as an auditorium where scientific lectures are given, illustrated by demonstrations and experiments.
A specialised bookshop completes the facilities of the Palais de la Science.
© Guide Officiel Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1958 - Desclée & Co