Shower of Science

Dirty, sweaty and tired by the mining work, several generations of Lousal miners have taken their showers here for many decades. With their hardened hands, these miners have removed the entrails of the Earth and explored its mineral riches. For all of us! Today, water is no longer running from these showers; we have exchanged it for light and a yearning for knowledge. Now, this is a place of Science, Technology and challenges to your curiosity. In each unit you will explore, this will be the new “shower” we offer you!

Interactive exhibits by category:

Ore minerals at an intimate scale

Did you know ores can also be studied under the microscope? The way ore-minerals reflect light enables us to study them under reflected-light microscopes, with which we can observe the reflected image of well-polished mineral surfaces. Ore microscopy is fundamental in studies on the ore genesis and ore processing.

Touching stones

Some lives might be limited to a world as dark as a mine. Promoting Science is a gift that must be available to all citizens. That is why we want to enhance the cultural and social value of this “Ciência Viva” Centre so that blind visitors may feel welcome.

Ore, mystery and much more

Look around. Everything is made of something. Some raw-materials are plant-derived but most came out from the Earth crust. During Earth’s history, some known geological processes concentrated a number of metallic minerals in particular settings of the crust, which turned the exploitation of the contained metals economically viable. Those are our ores.

Histories that minerals tell us about

Have you thought that Earth is largely made of minerals? Some quite common, others rare, some as large crystals, others microscopic, all minerals are combinations of atoms, linked by somewhat mysterious forces. Reading their history is fascinating.

Mineral landscapes

In spite of its small size, Portugal presents an enormous variety of rocks, many of them well-known to you… But, have you ever seen them under the microscope? We invite you to a wonderful trip through a few of the most beautiful Portuguese micro-landscapes!

Vulcan’s forge

Romans believed that Vulcan, the blacksmith-god, lived under Mount Etna, which became active when he fired his forge. Volcanoes are, instead, a spectacular expression of Earth’s dynamics, and vary significantly in shape, products emitted, type and frequency of their eruptions. Here you may follow the main stages of the evolution of the Fogo volcano, Cape Verde, identify the lava flows from the historical eruptions and get fascinated by the images and rock samples of the 1995 eruption.

A breath-taking show

Many substances, particularly minerals, fluoresce, emitting visible light when “illuminated” with ultraviolet radiation, which is invisible. Some mineral species, like scheelite and autunite, for example, are always fluorescent, while others, like calcite, only fluoresce in particular specimens. Fluorite gave its name to the phenomenon. Is it always fluorescent?

Intraterresterial life and extremophile organisms

On and below the sea floor there is life unrelated with the Sun, or nearly so, truly in the extreme. The fauna of the hydrothermal fields is truly spectacular, with microbes, worms, mussels, crab and shrimp and even fish. Below the sea floor there are mostly microbes, but millions in each cubic centimetre. Their mass is comparable to that of all the other living beings.

Detecting blind ores

We are now capable of finding ores located well within the crust, due to the anomalies they generate in physical properties of Earth’s crust. In the Pyrite Belt we search for large bodies of dense ores, which generate anomalies in the local gravity field. Geology tells us where ores may exist; gravity measurement shows if a dense body is concealed at depth.