Out of This World

Since ancient times, outer space has fascinated humankind. In recent times, it has inspired all kinds of creative work from science fiction books such as Arthur C. Clarkes’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to sci-fi TV shows and movies such as Star Trek and Star Wars. This week’s post features some other unusual tributes to outer space: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, the International UFO Museum and Research Center, the Rocket Thrower, and the Unisphere.

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a 30-acre garden located in Dumfries, Scotland, at Portrack House, the private residence of architect and landscape designer Charles Jencks and his late wife, Maggie Keswick. This garden is supposed to be a re-creation of aspects of outer space such as black holes and the Big Bang. Snail-shaped hills, landscape features shaped like geometric fractals, and geometrical architectural structures such as steel curves provide visitors with an earthly miniature of the universe.

 

Portrack House
David Robertson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Portrack House Strange shapes and exotic formal gardens at Portrack House. The gardens are open to the public one day a year.
8 May 2005
Source: From geograph.org.uk
David Robertson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons Exotic formal garden at Portrack House 8 May 2005 From geograph.org.uk
David Robertson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Exotic formal garden at Portrack House
8 May 2005
From geograph.org.uk
By Flexdream (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 7/5/2006
By Flexdream (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
7/5/2006
By Flexdream (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons Willowtwist" Aluminium sculpture by Charles Jencks and his wife Maggie Keswick. Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Dumfries; a single long sheet of aluminium - cut and split twice 7/5/2006
By Flexdream (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Willowtwist” Aluminium sculpture by Charles Jencks and his wife Maggie Keswick. Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Dumfries; a single long sheet of aluminium – cut and split twice
7/5/2006
By Flexdream (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons Black Hole. Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Dumfries & Galloway. (locations ?) 7/5/2006
By Flexdream (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Black Hole. Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Dumfries & Galloway. (locations ?)
7/5/2006

Why did he build this garden? Here is Jencks’ explanation:

“To see the world in a Grain of Sand, the poetic insight of William Blake, is to find relationships between the big and small, science and spirituality, the universe and the landscape. This cosmic setting provides the narrative for my content-driven work, the writing and design. I explore metaphors that underlie both growing nature and the laws of nature, parallels that root us personally in the cosmos as firmly as a plant, even while our mind escapes this home.”

Source: “Charles Jencks’ Mind-Bending Landscape Architecture” by Alice Yoo

The International UFO Museum and Research Center

Located in Roswell, New Mexico, the International UFO Museum and Research Center (also known as the Roswell UFO Museum) is a museum that focuses its attention on the famous Roswell Incident that happened in 1947. The U.S. government initially explained this incident as the crash of a weather balloon, but over the years another more dramatic story evolved as the result of research of government documents and interviews with people directly involved in the incident: The weather balloon was actually an alien spacecraft, and dead aliens were recovered from it. Several books have been written about it over the years, but the story remains controversial.

The International UFO Museum and Research Center features exhibits on the Roswell Incident as well as exhibits about crop circles, Area 51, and a few other related topics. It also contains a library where anyone who is curious about UFOs can conduct their own research.

This museum is a popular tourist attraction. In an interview for RoadsideAmerica.com, the late museum director Julie Schuster stated that “83 percent of the UFO Museum’s visitors came to Roswell just to see this museum, and that it’s among the top five most-visited in the state.”

Source: “International UFO Museum” – RoadsideAmerica.com

Exterior of the Museum

By J Dykstra (Personal photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons The Roswell UFO Museum which is a popular tourist destination. 2010
By J Dykstra (Personal photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Roswell UFO Museum which is a popular tourist destination.
2010

 Alien Welcome

By mr_t_77 from WV, USA (ADSCN3692) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons Roswell UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico, USA. 3 June 2011, 18:17
By mr_t_77 from WV, USA (ADSCN3692) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Roswell UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico, USA.
3 June 2011, 18:17

 Alien Autopsy Museum Exhibit

By mr_t_77 from WV, USA (ADSCN3728) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons Roswell UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico, USA. 3 June 2011, 18:28
By mr_t_77 from WV, USA (ADSCN3728) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Roswell UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico, USA.
3 June 2011, 18:28

Silver Saucer

Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons I took photo in Aug. 2004.Billy Hathorn (talk) 04:36, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I took photo in Aug. 2004.Billy Hathorn (talk) 04:36, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

The Rocket Thrower and the Unisphere

The Rocket Thrower and the Unisphere were created for the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65. They reflect one of the fair’s central themes: space exploration.

The Rocket Thrower

Donald DeLue created the Rocket Thrower in less than six months at a cost of $105,000. According to the official website of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Rocket Thrower is a massive 43-foot high bronze statue that “was based on designs for the theme of ‘man conquering space,’” which DeLue developed years earlier for another project. DeLue had an idealistic perspective of the Rocket Thrower. He saw it as “’the spiritual concept of man’s relationship to space and his venturesome spirit backed up by all the powers of his intelligence for the exploration of a new dimension.’” However, not everyone shared his vision. For example, The New York Times art reviewer John Canaday called the Rocket Thrower “’the most lamentable monster, making Walt Disney look like Leonardo Da Vinci.’”

The Rocket Thrower in Recent Times

Donald De Lue [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Donald De Lue [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Unisphere

The Unisphere was literally the centerpiece of the New York World’s Fair of 1964-1965. It is a huge 350-ton globe with a 120-foot diameter, and it was designed by landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke. According to the official website of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, it was supposed to celebrate “both the dawn of the space age and the fair’s broader theme of ‘Peace Through Understanding.’” Its three orbital rings were supposed to “represent the tracks of early satellites.” The Unisphere was supposed to be a rotating sculpture, but it turned out to be too expensive to try to make this massive globe spin around. Instead, the people involved with the Unisphere project opted to use “lights and fountain water jets” to “create an illusion of movement.” In addition, lenses lit by flashing lights drew attention to the capital cities of the world marked on the Unisphere.

The Unisphere in 1964

By PLCjr from Richmond, VA, USA (NY World's Fair 1964-1965) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons From PLCjr on Flickr.com -- My Uncle Tony loved the World's Fair. Between my other uncles and him I easily went at least a dozen times over 1964 and 1965. The Unisphere was at the center of the Fair. He must have taken this from the observation towers of the New York State pavilion. In the background left is Shea Stadium with the El running in front of it. Pretty sure this was taken with his Leica. Picture by Anthony Conti (deceased). This photo is a picture taken of the original Kodachrome slide. August 1964 Source: NY World's Fair 1964-1965
By PLCjr from Richmond, VA, USA (NY World’s Fair 1964-1965) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
August 1964
Source: NY World’s Fair 1964-1965

The Unisphere in 2015

By Ps2avery (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons Site: Flushing Meadows Corona Park 18 October 2015, 15:19:58
By Ps2avery (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Site: Flushing Meadows Corona Park
18 October 2015, 15:19:58

Although the New York World’s Fair took place more than 50 years ago, both the Rocket Thrower and the Unisphere still remain. They can still be seen in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York. Both have suffered weathering over the years. Some restoration work was done to the Unisphere in 1994, and plans to restore the Rocket Thrower are underway. Hopefully, these conservation efforts will ensure that people will see these space-themed sculptures for many years to come.

Sources:

“Rocket Thrower” – New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Official Website

“Unisphere” – New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Official Website

 

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12 thoughts on “Out of This World

    1. Hi Ralph!:) I like the garden too. In addition to the garden, I like its name. After growing some tomatoes, zucchini, and potatoes one summer in my backyard, I can also appreciate the effort it takes to maintain a garden. I wonder how many people it takes to keep the Garden of Cosmic Speculation looking good.

      I hope you have a great weekend too, Ralph. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to like and comment on this post. And thanks for liking some of my artwork. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s nice that you grew your own vegetables Arlene. It’s a 24/7 job isn’t it ? Living 3 floors up I don’t have a garden, but really there is no need as the locals grow so much that they bring me all sorts. I offer to pay, but they don’t want money as they are glad to get rid of so much excess fruit and vegetables ….. even honey !
        Your artwork is really good and deserve a big Like 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I remember the most time-consuming part of gardening was preparing the growing space. Our yard has clay soil, so it is very difficult to dig when it is dry. I also added in gardening soil so that the plants would grow better. Once the plants were in the ground, it required about an hour of work nearly every day. I basically had to water the plants regularly and add fertilizer every few weeks.

          That is nice of your neighbors to give you some vegetables and honey for free. When I had my vegetable garden, it surprised me how a few plants could produce so many vegetables. The vegetables, especially the tomatoes, tasted a lot better than the ones in the stores. 🙂 I would like to try having another vegetable garden again, but I don’t have the time right now. Another problem is the watering restrictions in my area.

          Thank you for your kind words about my artwork, Ralph. I am glad that you like it.

          I am sorry that it took me awhile to reply to your comment. However, I sent you an email over the weekend. I hope you received it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hello Arlene. Yes thank you. I do have your Sunday’s email and am almost ready to reply to it. I am saving it till last as I’ve almost cleared my Inbox of all the 300+ Like, comment and other outstanding emails since my latest post last Friday. I never realised that blogging could be so busy when I first started out with WordPress.

            Glad you had fun with your garden though hard clay is hard work isn’t it ? Sorry you still have water restrictions. I hope they don’t turn off your area supply regularly. No chance of that here for the moment as there is a Low Pressure sitting out to sea off Portugal and all the rain it generates has been sweeping over us for the last few days. Tomorrow will be the same. Like you, we need the rain.

            Yes, your art work is really good. I hope you get some more work coming along soon.

            I will answer your email tomorrow Arlene. It’s way past midnight and I should shut down for the night. So I’ll say goodnight. Tomorrow, okay ? 😀 ❤

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Hi Ralph! I finally have the time to respond your comment. Wow, you receive a lot of emails! You are one popular blogger. 🙂

            Yes, having clay soil in my garden is a pain. I will wet it down with a hose or wait for a good rain to make it easier to work with. What makes me laugh is that recently I started getting notices in the mail from the electric company to call a phone number before digging. According to the company, you could possibly hit underground cables just digging the ground for planting. Why didn’t they tell me that when I dug up the backyard for my vegetable garden seven or so years ago? 😀

            Yes, the water restrictions are a pain too. Some of my trees suffered a lot last summer because I could not water them very much, and I think two of them died. To make matters worse, our water and utility rates will go up about 10% this year and will be increased in increments over the next few years, so we will literally be paying more for less water. 😦 I hope you made it through the storm okay, and your power is more stable now.

            Thanks again for your kind words about my artwork. I am sad that my Moonlight Gallery blog has been sitting there without anything new for about a year. I am actually working on something new now, but sadly I have been delayed again and again because of working, looking for work, attending to my dad and pets, and doing other things.

            I want you to know that I received your latest email and will respond to it as soon as I can. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Ralph. Take care. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Hello again Arlene. Thank you so much for your very long reply.
            Yes, I am finding myself so busy with blogging and emails, but I don’t mind as I pace myself and don’t let it totally take up my life. Especially now as the cold weather has gone and the days are very sunny and warm. So I try to get out as much as I can, not only in the village but on the balcony. I don’t have a battery in my laptop as I run it off the mains electricity. By doing that I save the battery for when I go on vacation only. So when I do go out I don’t have my head in the laptop. Also I do not have a smart phone as my hands are too wonky to operate one. So I work on my laptop in fits and starts when I want to.
            That is so funny reading about your electricity company sending you that reminder. I hope the sent to a map of your property showing where all the cables run. I bet they did not ! Yes, using water to help you dig in clay is a great idea and does work after a good soaking. Sorry to read that your water bills are going up. Amazingly I pay the Spanish Town Hall here for water and the bills are really low. I do have a standing order with the electricity company and their bills are very high, not for the usage, but all the extras i.e. taxes etc. I used to have gas bottles in my last home in Spain, but as I am three floors up they are too heavy to carry upstairs, so my apartment is totally electric except for the water heater which is solar powered.
            The storm soon passed and luckily this time I didn’t have a power outage. Happy, happy !
            Please don’t worry about your gallery as life must come first.
            I hope you are having a nice day Arlene and do take care of yourself.
            Ralph 😀 ❤

            Like

          4. Hi Ralph! 🙂 I hope you got my email. I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your latest comment here.

            It is a good idea to pace yourself with blogging and emails and to get out and enjoy the beautiful warm and sunny days of spring and summer while you can. The time passes by so quickly that it will be autumn and then winter before you know it! I don’t have a laptop computer, so I also don’t carry one with me when I go out. I have a cell phone, but I don’t have a smart phone. I spend so much time in front of a computer that I like being disconnected from the Internet when I go out. The only time I get worried about not having a computer with me when I am out is if I am expecting a client to email me.

            Yes, I got that notice a little too late. 😀 No, I did not receive a map. I received another one of those notices in the mail, and I read that I have to worry about digging up not only electric power lines but also natural gas pipelines! Instead of giving people a map, the electric company sends someone to your backyard to place markers where the lines are. They also advise people to “use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of our pipelines.” I think I am better off using raised beds or having a container garden if I don’t want to worry about all the lines running through my backyard.

            You are fortunate to have low water bills. My electric bills are not very high, but I have noticed that the electric, water, and utility companies here in California also add on a lot of small fees and surcharges to their bills. The electric company also has a program where you can donate money to pay for the utility bills of low-income people who are on the verge of losing their electricity because they can’t afford to pay for it. I have heard of solar-powered water heaters, but I don’t have one. I hope it helps to cut down on the electricity you use.

            Power outages are not fun, so I can understand your happiness that you did not have to experience one.

            Yes, you are right. Life is keeping me very busy these days. Hopefully things will slow down a little bit at some point, and I will have a little more time to do more creative work.

            Take care of yourself too, my friend. I hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Hello Arlene. There is no need to apologise for your tardiness in answering the comment, anyway it is nice to read what you have to say. I did get and replied to your email. Thank you very much.

            I am the same as you, I like to get away from technology when I am out. It seems that everyone has their head in a smart phone in the street. I bet they would be walking around like headless chickens if the Internet went down for good. 😀

            I like the idea of the electricity companies asking for donations. I am sure that there are so many households that do not pay their bills and that must be scary for them. Thank heavens I have enough not to worry about my bills. Initially, buying and installing the solar water heater was quite expensive. I forget, but I think I paid around US$1500 three years ago. Wintertime is always expensive, but the summer my electricity usage is next to nothing. So the solar must be helping.

            I do hope that things slow down for you so that you can be more creative which I know you like to do.

            Thank you, and take care of yourself too. Hot sun and showers this weekend which clears the air a bit. I hope you are having a lovely Sunday my friend. 😀 ❤

            Liked by 1 person

          6. Hi Ralph. You are welcome. I received your email and also sent a reply.

            It feels good to get away once in awhile. I once heard on the radio that people are getting injured on the street while walking because they are so distracted talking or texting on a smart phone or other similar device that they do not look where they are going and end up bumping into a pole or falling off the sidewalk. I have also read about people suffering from Internet and social media addiction. It is easy to forget about the outside world when you are constantly online.

            My family and I are fortunate that we can still afford to pay the utility bills, but the upcoming rate increases concern me. I am glad to hear the solar heater is helping you. While the initial cost was expensive, it sounds like you are getting some return on your investment. There are quite a few companies around here offering solar panel installation on people’s rooftops. I have heard solar panels are not as expensive as they used to be, but these companies probably charge a lot for labor, which is usually the case for repair and installation jobs.

            Things have not slowed down for me yet. I am still hoping that they will, but what usually happens to me is some unexpected (and often annoying) event will occur that will suck away what little free time I have. Oh well.

            You are welcome. Does it still rain where you are in the summer too? I hope you enjoy your weekend, Ralph. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          7. Hi Arlene 😀
            Thank you so much for your email. I will start to answer it in a minute. I do hope that at least this weekend you can have some free time to do something that you love. It hardly ever rains in the summer, usually the odd thunderstorm. Clear blue skies at the moment which personally I am glad to see and enjoy.
            Thank you and have a lovely weekend yourself 😀 ❤

            Liked by 1 person

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