A new attraction which combines nature and physics in a powerfully compelling presentation has just opened at the Crystal Caves.
The Magic Spheres, a floating galaxy of mineral spheres which glow with natural fluorescence, took owner Rene Boissevain seven years to arrange and have been hailed as a world first by international museums.
“We were told by staff at the Franklin Mineral Museum in the USA (where fluorescing minerals are highly rated as the next big thing) that they know of no-one else who has attempted a display like this,” explains Rene Boissevain. Most flourescing mineral samples and spheres are in static displays just on shelves, yet the Crystal Caves has taken an idea floated by Rene and executed the 3D galaxy style display entirely on their own.“I had the idea about 15 years ago at a gem and mineral show when someone rolled a small flourescing sphere glowing under UV light across the floor in front of me. Then I thought ‘what if they were actually floating in space?’ Its taken a lot to achieve the Magic Spheres, including some brand new, cutting edge, high tech ultraviolet lights custom made in imported from the USA. The effect from these lamps is a virtual explosion of spectrum colours – its absolutely dazzling.”
Aside from the imported lamps, the Magic Spheres attraction was devised using local Atherton Tableland talent.
“We asked Bill Ralph, one of the most talented members of the Atherton Lapidary Club, to cut five spheres, and he’s done an amazing job,” said Rene Boissevain. “Next, we tried for many months to find an engineer with the skills necessary to construct the machines we would need to animate the spheres in the way that we had envisaged. The project was too ‘out there’ for everyone we contacted and just when we were starting to despair we found another local, Warren Clinton from Clinton Construction and Engineering. Warren was really excited about the ideas that we presented and went ahead to design and build all the mechanisms used to bring Magic Spheres to fruition, while adding his own flair along the way.”
The journey to the ‘alien solar system’, as it was dubbed by one visitor, was not without drama. “Over the 10 months of construction, we faced numerous unexpected challenges,” explains Rene Boissevain. “Who would have known that the black rubber wheels used in parts of one of the machines would fluoresce brilliantly white under our special ultraviolet lights or that the black fabric we wanted to use would fluoresce purple?”
The overall impact of the Magic Spheres cannot be understated. The mineral spheres, which look like ordinary rocks under normal light, take on another dimension of reality as they orbit with their dazzlingly rich hues.
“It’s mesmerising and entrancing,” says Rene Boissevain. “People who have experienced it have watched for an hour and said they can’t tear themselves away. I tell them we added a touch of black magic voodoo into the mix when we made them,” he laughs.