On a Clear Day You Can See A Penny Shoot


For the Wednesday of Spring Break, my friend Becky invited me and some of her other friends to join her at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. Of course we went: the Lawrence Hall of Science is one of Neil’s favorite science museums, and Neil likes it even more with friends. And he gets along fabulously with Becky’s outgoing son, Ethan.

While they were busy testing the museum’s science experiments, Kelly and I were in the museum’s open back section, which is the most Kelly friendly, with its flowing dams and sandbox. I always admire the view from there, which looks over Berkeley, Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay from the Oakland Bridge to the Marin Headlands. And this was an especially clear day, so the view was more stunning than ever.


You can see Alcatraz Island there right in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bigger island to the right is Angel Island. And the line that seems to point directly at Alcatraz Island is the Berkeley Pier where maniac yacht racers launch off and speed into the Marina.

Kelly and I casually checked out the exhibits. No one seemed to have noticed the pneumatic gun that would shoot a penny you placed into it, so I gave Kelly a penny and we watched it roll back, get loaded, and then go “bang!” into a wall. A broken penny rolled out. Neil quickly joined us and I gave him a penny as well. His fared a bit better, since it only got bent.


Could it have had something to do with the different metal composition of pennies of different years? We don’t know, because after we’d worked it, everyone else was hip to it and it had a long line until it invariably became jammed.

We stayed for 4-1/2 hours (that is the amount of parking I could pay for with all the money I had on hand), and for once, I think we managed to see it all, or at least enough to satisfy Neil until the next visit.

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