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Granite Balancing Acts

October 21

Dartmoor is famous for its granite tors, some of which feature boulders piled on top of each other that look like they will topple over any minute - but have in fact stood there for millennia through wind and storms and everything the Dartmoor weather can throw at them.  I was interested to discover the other day that a manmade version of this phenomenon is currently on display in Kensington Gardens.  "One Rock on Top of Another Rock" is a sculpture by a couple of Swiss artists, unveiled in March this year.  

The two rocks that form the sculpture are weathered granite boulders, each weighing just under 30 tonnes.  Like Dartmoor rocks, they have been shaped by glacial action and natural weathering over thousands of years into magnificent and complex forms.  The rocks are delicately and precisely balanced on top of each other, held together simply by gravity.  On Dartmoor, nature has performed this feat.  How did it happen in London?  The engineering company Arup made the installation possible by using state of LiDART (Light Detection and Ranging) surveying technology on the rocks at their original location in North Wales.  3D printing technology was then used to produced exact physical models at one twentieth of the scale.  Using simple engineering principles of balance and gravity, the rocks were installed in less than 3 hours.  Their sheer weight ensures they can't be pushed over.

So that explains how Thornworthy Tor continues to look like this despite people and animals climbing over it and force ten winds battering it...

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