During its tour of Germany in the Year of Science 2009, the Science Express visited a total of 62 German cities, including all of the federal state capitals. Science was not the only thing on the move in the 333-metre-long special train, which had an exhibition area of around 1,400 m2 distributed across twelve carriages and totalling 480 tonnes in weight. Two specially-designed electric locomotives and if required one diesel locomotive pulled the exhibition train all over Germany, from Constance in the South to Kiel in the North and from Aachen in the West to Goerlitz in the East.
Of the 250,000 expected visitors, the 50,000th was greeted as early as Whitsun weekend at the end of May in Bonn. The 100,000th visitor followed in Nuremberg in mid-July and the 200,000th in early October in Potsdam. The stations in the eastern federal states, in particular, experienced a veritable rush of interested citizens. The highest numbers of visitors recorded on a single day were 2,857 in Berlin, 2,348 in Erfurt and 2,133 in Dresden. At a maximum capacity of 300 people per hour, this meant that the exhibition was constantly full: waiting times of up to two hours arose in some places and queues formed of more than 100 metres. This was also the case in the most successful locations: the record number of visitors was achieved by Dresden and Erfurt with 5,742 and 5,606 visitors respectively, followed closely by Aachen with 5,317 and Wuppertal with 5,304.
But top of the list was the last stop of the Science Express, Berlin Wedding, with 6,306 visitors. Many high-ranking representatives from politics, business and science could not resist the opportunity to admire the biggest project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the Year of Science 2009. A total of over 1,500 invited guests from all over Germany came to the individual launch events, more than 300 of them greeting the Science Express in the warmest of terms in their welcome addresses, in some locations with background music or artistic accompaniment. For example, two DJs created a summer festival atmosphere for the train’s stopover in Jena; the arrival of the train was accompanied by a jazz band in Ulm; and in Rostock it was welcomed by a dance performance.
A total of over 350 temporary staff were employed on-site to support the train team and ensure the smooth daily operation of the train. The permanent staff were kept busy every day with over 1,800 tours and 382 workshops. The organisation of the daily schedule, particularly in the laboratory, was full of superlatives: Almost 40,000 visitors stopped by at the laboratory to take part in one or both workshops. This involved getting ›crawlers‹, made of various brushes, to walk with the help of an artificial sun and ›hot cells‹: 50 cm in 3.6 seconds moved the frog-brush, a world record! Also in the ›cool plastics‹ section records were set: a super absorber ball created in Heidelberg was able to absorb 206-times its own weight in water. As a result only 33 balls could fit in a cup rather than 7,103 in their dry state. After the long journey throughout Germany, the three team transporters, with which the team followed the train from city to city, had clocked around 20,000 km each.