Friday, April 20, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Study Geology

When I think of the Eyring Science Center (ESC), I usually think of something that my geology professor said on the first day of class (which is the only class I ever had in the ESC and this memory is pretty much the only thing I remember about the class, besides that the limestone in Rock Canyon is called great blue limestone). She said that when she finally decided that she was going to study geology, she talked about it with her bishop, which is the Mormon version of a priest of a pastor.  When she told him, he essentially looked at her and told her that it was a horrible idea, because geologist are full of crap since the Earth is only 8,000 years old, not the millions that geologist claim.  She was heart broken and began to cry.  However, she followed her dream and became a geologist.

The Eyring Science Center is the main science building on BYU campus.  It is named after Carl F. Eyring who believed (contrary to my teacher's bishop) that science and religion can exist harmoniously.  It was constructed in 1950.  Here is a picture of it from 1949 and 1950 and what it looks like today:

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

When the building was dedicated in 1950, it was named the Psyical Science Building and cost $2 million to build.  The large building had the same amount of floor space as the six other major buildings on campus at the time combined.  According to this article, when it was dedicated construction had not yet been completely.  It was written in the program at the dedication that "cutbacks in building material due to the war and work stoppage due to factory strikes have prevented the completion of this structure and of the furnishings by this date."  Unfortunately, Carl F. Eyring, the building's namesake, died shortly after its opening from leukemia.

The Eyring Science Center houses the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Geology, and Food Science and Nutrition. The Department of Chemistry has in the past been located at the Eyring Science Center but is not currently headquartered there.  The building is probably most well know for the pendulum in the lobby (and the other toys that are scattered throughout.  They are pretty fun) and the planetarium that was redone in 2005.  Another interesting fact is that the ESC was the first building on BYU campus to have an elevator.

The BYU planetarium website says, "The new Royden G. Derrick planetarium at BYU was completed in March of 2005, and upgraded in Aug. 2010. 
The facility is located in the Eyring Science Center on campus and is used primarily for holding University classes. However, we also provide outreach shows for community groups and weekend shows for the general public."  If you'd like more information, click here.

The pendulum court is a pretty cool place to run around and look at all of the neat exhibits (and my brother works there too).  The court used to be home to several dinosaur bones, but they were moved to the BYU Earth Science Museum.  Additionally there is a cool stream table that is found at the ESC.  There is a really well done video (great job Erik!) on youtube all about it.  You can check it out here.

One of the most interesting finds on the ESC was about different pranks that occurred in the building.  Here is what the website says: "[regarding pranks that have occurred] there was the time the Foucault pendulum ball was stolen and missing for weeks before an anonymous tip suggested they dredge the botany pond south of campus. The pendulum has been the target of other schemes, and some claim the pendulum bowl was once filled with water and fish.

"Perhaps the most infamous prank played in the Eyring Science Center involved a cat and a carillon. As a gift from four senior classes in the mid-1950s, a carillon was mounted on the roof of the ESC. The instrument played through four huge speakers, loud enough to be heard at Utah Lake on a clear day, claims Rex Arnett, then a student carillonneur.

"According to legend, someone put a cat to sleep with chloroform and placed the animal inside the locked rolltop carillon keyboard. When the cat woke up, it began walking around and playing loud, obnoxious noises in the middle of the night.

"But Arnett remembers it differently. As the one who discovered the cats (there were two), he insists it was a Sunday afternoon and the cats only made a brief disturbance. The big ruckus, he says, actually happened a few weeks later in March 1956.

"About 11:30 one Friday evening, the carillon started going berserk, remembers Arnett. As lights came on all over Provo, Arnett and a police officer struggled through several sets of doors with soldered locks. By the time they reached the carillon, the noise had been going on for more than 30 minutes. "The console was open," Arnett explains, "and there was a little Erector Set motor that had been attached to the lower part of the keyboard. It had two little arms that came around on the motor and hit two particular keys--bong bong, bong bong, bong bong."

"The incident made quite a stir at BYU and in Provo, but the pranksters were never caught, says Arnett, who graduated with a Spanish degree in 1961."

One final thing that actually isn't related to the Eyring Science Center is the International Cinema which is found in the SWKT, the tall tower just outside the entrance to the ESC.  They play some really good movies there, although I have heard that sometimes they are edited so much that you can't understand the plot.  The other problem is that occasionally the bells for the beginning and end of class ring during the middle of the movie.  But besides that it is pretty awesome and I definitely recommend it to anyone in Provo that has not been.

1 comment:

  1. Another great post, Chad! I really enjoyed watching Erik and the stream table. I feel like booking a air ticket so I can fly to Utah just to play with the "plastic sand". Very fun! I loved watching the pendulum ball swing when I was there in 1979. I also loved your photos of the before and after shots of the ESC!