15 Sep

Located in Karongi District, the Museum of Environment is an oasis of knowledge. When I visited the establishment, I was taken aback by the depth of information documented therein. One visit couldn't even scratch the surface. Today, allow me to review two thought-provoking theories illustrated by the graphic exhibits hanging on its wall.

Before I reached the theory-plastered walls, I revisited the solar system. Decades ago, I learned from my Geography teacher that the universe is home to nine planets. While in this museum, it was revealed to me that one of those planets was disqualified by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Pluto was dropped from the list of planets because it is not big enough to sustain hydrostatic equilibrium and clear its surroundings around the orbit. In other words, it doesn’t command the force of gravity capable of controlling the orbits of all objects in its vicinity. I have spent my entire life believing Pluto is a planet. Unbeknownst to me, what I thought was the farthest planet from the sun, lost its planetary status in 2006. I wonder what else in my reservoir of knowledge has been revoked.

That means we are left with eight planets: four terrestrial and four giant planets. Terrestrial planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The remaining four planets fall under the giant planet category. Giant planets are further divided into two subcategories: Gas Giants (Jupiter and Saturn) and Ice Giants (Uranus and Neptune).

The dismissal of Pluto is not the only thing I learned in this museum. I also soaked up the intricacies of the Big Bang Theory. The Big Bang is derived from the cosmopolitan model of the evolution of the universe. I don’t remember studying this stuff in a classroom. Maybe it was one of those boring topics I hardly paid attention to.

Museums have a way of turning boring subjects into interesting ones. These facilities are designed to offer informative study tours. The fusion of education and tourism instills fun into learning and introduces an alternative teaching methodology.

While in the museum, I also had an opportunity to refresh my memory of the Continental Drift. The presentation of the trajectory of the plate tectonic movement is fascinating. In my imagination, I accelerated the gradual process of the formation of continents. In the beginning, small ruptures appeared on the ground. Then they grew bigger and bigger. Land on different sides of the cracks drifted away from each other as the ocean filled up the openings. Sounds like an excerpt from a fiction tale. Well, this imagination is based on a true story.

The actual process began when the earth was one big planet. The disintegration of planet earth into seven continents has taken about 4.5 billion years. All along, I thought the earth is a collection of six continents. Seems like I have lived my entire life believing in another misleading piece of information.