It was around this time in 2003 that the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond introduced a new attraction: a 29 ton globe that people can push around.
It’s called the Mary Morton Parsons Earth-Moon Sculpture.
As you might guess from the long name, the big ball in the middle is the Earth, with a smaller sphere nearby to represent the moon.
But the question is, how is a giant solid ball made of South African granite, over 8 feet in diameter, recognized as the world’s largest floating ball sculpture, something that you can just shove a little and rotate?
The answer is water.
A Kugel ball (the one in Richmond is known as the Grand Kugel) has water spraying underneath it, just enough to lubricate the surface of the sphere, and just enough to let the giant stone ball move freely when we touch it.
If the base of the structure is measured out and constructed just right, and the water is engineered just so, the Kugel ball can even rotate the same way Earth does.
Structures like these are popular attractions at museums and other locations all over the world, and the science behind them is pretty fascinating.
But while they may seem magical, they’re not invulnerable.
Not long after it was installed, Richmond’s Grand Kugel started to crack!
It had to be shut down in 2004, and replaced the year after, as the world turns.
Late last month Toyota introduced 15 new electric vehicle concept cars to the public.
There were futuristic designs, bright colors, lots to ooh and ahh over.
Nobody mentioned this during the event, but if you looked closely at one of the vehicles, called the Micro Box, there was a QR code on its front panel.
The auto news site The Drive decided to scan the code, and it linked to the music video for Rick Astley’s timeless hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
If you’ve never been Rickrolled by an automaker before, now you have.
Very Richmond #9: Grand Kugel at Science Museum of Virginia (Richmond on the James)
Photo by rmanoske via Flickr/Creative Commons