Now This From Pompeii

No need to go all the way to Pompeii this summer just to pick up a first-century recipe for lobster or take in a video simulation of the blast that wiped out that city in A.D. 79. Go to New York instead and see "Rediscovering Pompeii" at the Midtown IBM Gallery of Science and Art (Madison Avenue at 56th Street) through Sept. 15.

Making their debut are more than 200 objects unearthed in the past two years, including the skeleton of a fallen mystery woman fleeing the eruption, who paused to grab her purse. In what's left of her hand she still clutches the coins. In addition, 20 hands-on exhibits illustrate new computer applications to the exploration and excavation of Pompeii (a third of which is still buried), developed in a recent IBM Italy/Fiat Engineering study there. Computers teach visitors about daily life in Pompeii before its sudden extinction. It seems the Pompeiians favored fish dinners and upscale cookware, worshiped the god of wine and were big theatergoers. Are you listening, New York?

The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and admission is free. For information: (212) 745-6100.

Space Cadets

There's still time to enroll your little rocket scientist in U.S. Space Camp's Aviation Challenge program (Sept. 9-14, 16-21 and 23-28).

When Wernher von Braun was director of the Huntsville, Ala., NASA facility in the '60s, he thought the way to entice kids into careers in science, math and technology was to interest them in space. If there were camps for jocks and cheerleaders and scouts, why not a space camp? It finally opened in 1982 for 4th to 12th graders.

Aviation Challenge, new this year, introduces 9th to 11th graders to high-performance military aviation, essential training for all future shuttle pilots and astronauts. At camp the little darlings learn the basics of aerodynamics and flying, and land and water survival for pilots; participate in computer-simulated "Top Gun" dogfights; and practice precision aerobatics, also via computer. All techniques they'll no doubt apply when they begin driver's training.

The cost for the five-day program is $650, excluding transportation. For information or to register, call 1-800-63-SPACE (1-800-637- 7223). There's still plenty of, er, space.

TRAVEL TRIVIA A circus-goer packing an Annie Oakley is entitled to what privilege? ANSWER BELOW TRIVIA ANSWER: FREE ADMISSION. THE EXPRESSION WAS A TRIBUTE TO OAKLEY'S SKILL AT SHOOTING HOLES IN CIRCUS TICKETS TOSSED INTO THE AIR, AND REFERRED TO THE PRACTICE OF PUNCHING HOLES IN TICKETS GAMES

Strike a blow for geographical literacy with the Geography Game. The first player suggests a geographical name beginning with A, the second a name beginning with B and so on. After Z, players start again with A. Stumped players must drop out, and do time with an atlas (but not until after vacation).