3.29.2011

bp's science: The Stalacpipe Organ (v.1)


If you ever took geology, I'm sure you studied stalactites (holding "tight" to the ceiling) and stalagmites (trying with all of their "might" to reach the top of the ceiling). They are awesome to behold and grow quite slow, and at other times fast. Stalactites form when acidic droplets of water (complete with calcium carbonate and carbon dioxide) fall from the ceiling of a cave. As the droplet hangs from the ceiling, the carbon dioxide is released, leaving behind the calcium carbonate (limestone). Stalagmites grow when the water droplet lands, leaving behind limestone. And when the two come together, they form columns.

This past weekend, we found ourselves at Luray Caverns: an out of this world cave with endless stalactites and stalagmites, some of which are examples of the best in the world. Luray Caverns is a privately owned natural beauty, and as such, has an interesting history. For instance, a house was built over one of the cave's vents to become the first air conditioned home in the world, the Caverns continues to offer wedding packages (that's right, you can get married right in the cave), and a Stalagpipe Organ is built inside the "grand ballroom" where they used to have dances back in the 1950s.

I'm not sure if they would have allowed the Stalacpipe organ to be built in 2011, but back in the 50s it was the coolest thing in Virginia since cured ham. I'll have to admit, I was very impressed with the instrument. Built by a mathematician, the man went around the Cavern (3.5 acres of it) knocking on stalactites to get the tone for each note. He had to saw down many stalactites to get the perfect pitch. Next to the stalactites he set up rubber mallets connected to electric wires leading to the organ. When the keys were pressed, the stalactites were tapped and you've got the largest musical instrument in the world.

While we were there, I got some quality footage ("quality" typed with much sarcasm). You can hear the organ, along with Oliver's proclamation that it was indeed music. At the end he sings a bit, and it's pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.

video

3 comments:

jo said...

This is awesome! I must say, I was skeptical about what it would sound like at first, but the music is clear and beautiful. Were they playing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God? Very cool.

And, as always, O is extremely cute.

Janice said...

Very cool. I mean it. Very cool.

Chap said...

Oliver was absolutely right...it's a music. The music, and probably the cave temperature, were very cool and Oliver is darling. His voice was a clear as the music! Nice!