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A chance to feed your head
Atlantic Station exhibits 'Bodies,' "Dialog' blow the mind
0819Muscles and Skeleton
The juxtaposition of the human body with its various systems makes "Bodies" an educational, and even artful, exhibition.

‘Bodies,’ ‘Dialog in the Dark’

What: A look deep inside the systems of the body using actual preserved human bodies; a walk through a simulated world ‘blind' using the other four senses

When: Open noon-8 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, Good Friday and Easter

Where: The Premier Exhibition Center at Atlantic Station, 265 18th St., Atlanta

Cost: $24 for adults, $16 for children

More info: 404-496-4274, website

When the "Bodies" and "Dialog in the Dark" teamed to make a dynamic duo in November, 2008, there was enough fanfare to attract the eyes of the Atlanta population toward these two unique exhibits in Atlantic Station.

The media buzz may have faded a bit but word of mouth publicity has not as the two exhibits still amaze all who attend. The good news is that those in the metro area, or entire Southeast for that matter, now have more time to take in these remarkable experiences. Both exhibits have been extended until August 2011.

People worry about making the outside of their body look good but wouldn't it be interesting to see how all of your insides work together to make you what you are? "Bodies" does just that. More than 250 real, whole and partial human body specimens preserved through a special process provide an up-close look inside skeletal, muscular, reproductive, respiratory, circulatory and other systems of the human body. These are not mannequins-they are real bodies!

There's a fascinating sight around every corner at this exhibit. Many of the bodies are positioned in athletic poses, allowing you to see how muscles and tendons work together. Another display features an actual circulatory system of an entire human body, which form an intricate red network of blood vessels. Another display has a body that is in three sections, basically sliced vertically as if opening the body like a shell with the middle section showing all vital organs.

The bodies in the exhibition are preserved through a revolutionary technique called polymer preservation. In this process, human tissue is permanently preserved using liquid silicone rubber that is treated and hardened. The end result is a rubberized specimen, preserved to the cellular level, showcasing the complexity of the body's many bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and organs.

The full-body specimens can take more than a year to prepare.

When going to Atlantic Station, be sure to purchase the combo ticket for both "Bodies" and "Dialog in the Dark." "Dialog" basically takes you into another world-the world of the blind and visually impaired. Led by a visually impaired guide, you join a group of a dozen or so that enters a completely dark area-dark as in you can't see your hand right in front of your face! This experience is literally the blind leading the blind.

Before beginning the experience, each person is given a cane and instructions on how to properly use it. For instance, you don't want to raise the cane high and inadvertently smack someone next to you in the face. Our group sat down on benches inside a room and listened to an audio message about how life is different for the blind and visually impaired. Then the lights slowly faded until there was nothing but total darkness. It really didn't matter if you had your eyes open or not because you saw the same thing-nothing!

After that, our guide asked us to follow the sound of his voice as we moved from one room to the next. The simplest thing in the world is to rise from your seat and walk a short distance to another area but try that with your eyes closed! It was definitely unnerving to walk forward, not sure if you were going to bump into someone or something or fall off a step or small ledge.

The "trust factor" of following the voice came into play as you moved into different interactive environments that allowed your other senses to come to the fore. The various rooms allowed you to hear, smell and touch things without the benefit of seeing. In one room, you went through the simple task of purchasing a soft drink-using exact change, of course.

More than 5 million people in more than 20 countries have experienced "Dialog" but Atlanta is the only site in the U.S. This thought-provoking experience will give you a much keener appreciation for the challenges faced daily by the blind and visually impaired.

If you are looking for highly entertaining and educational experiences, a trip to Atlantic Station to take in "Bodies" and "Dialog in the Dark" is certainly in order.