→ If you’re reading this after Memorial Day, your first task is to build a time machine and travel back to 5/26, when the Field Museum launched its SUMMER OF SUE, feting the T. rex’s tenth anniversary with a visit from the dino’s discoverer, Sue Hendrickson (5/29-31). Otherwise, you’ve got until 9/6 to check out Robo Sue: The T. rex Experience, four animatronic dinos equipped with face-recognition software, allowing the critters to track visitors’ movements. Don’t make them angry.
→ Hm, you think: If dinosaurs could have finagled a quantum leap, would they have avoided extinction? Befuddled by the basics of quarks and neutrinos, you seek answers at Chicago’s genius central, Fermilab—and your timing couldn’t be better. On 6/6, a smarty-pants from the Particle Physics Division hosts the monthly Ask-a-Scientist Guided Tour, which includes up-close peeks at one of the lab’s particle accelerators.
If you’re the parent of a future scientist more into squashing bugs than smashing atoms, wait for the Family Outdoor Fair on 6/13—or see Summer Hot List: Family Fun »
→ Convinced the universe would make more sense if you could just get a better view, you redirect to the Geneva outpost of AMERICAN SCIENCE & SURPLUS, where a free star party on 6/18 features the NASA astrophysicist Michelle Thaller pointing out heavenly bodies through telescopes set up on the store’s roof.
Think civilian-sized lenses are for amateurs?
Head to Northwestern, where the DEARBORN OBSERVATORY’s 18.5-inch telescope is open to the public every Friday, year-round.
Does the great wide open send your mind reeling?
Try seeing the world through a different perspective: bovine. Trek to the Museum of Science and Industry for a daily 30-minute tutorial in DISSECTING A COW EYEBALL.
→ Nope, turns out you don’t have the stomach for scalpels. You do, however, find a spare $165,000 while searching your backpack for a barf bag. Put it—and the bag—to use by chartering a flight on ZERO GRAVITY CORPORATION’s vomit comet. You and 35 pals can enjoy seven to eight minutes sans gravity as a Boeing 727 makes dramatic parabolas in the sky. (Individual seats, $4,950, aren’t available until 2011.)
→ Your brush with weightlessness leaves you feeling so svelte you embark on a new scientific diet. You book a reservation at MOTO, home of the molecular-gastronomy pro—and star of the Planet Green TV show Future Food—Homaro Cantu.
For more adventurous eating, see Summer Hot List: Restaurants & Food »
→ Final food frontier conquered. What’s next?
- a) Reserve tickets for the 7/16 release of INCEPTION, a mind-bending flick from the Dark Knight director and onetime Chicagoan Christopher Nolan.
- b) There are always video games, but your new summer fling isn’t hip to gaming, and you hate to rock the boat. But wait! On 8/1 the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays Nobuo Uematsu’s score from the FINAL FANTASY franchise at Ravinia. Rad!
→ Thrilled to find your date digs the geek life, too, you take the big plunge and reserve tickets to CHICAGO COMIC CON (8/19-22). The original Batman and—deep breath—William Shatner both in one place? Consider it booked—and live long and prosper.
Photography: (Robo Sue) © 2010 Gerald Cain, (mad scientist) Kangah/istockphoto.com, (atom) Valdum/istockphoto.com, (West) TM and © 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Courtesy Everett Collection, (Shatner) courtesy Everett Collection