Discover WashU’s hidden treasure

“Ahoy! Keep going west, Cabin Boy! We must sail away from this whirl of electron affinity! Tug tug…”

I fixed my cocked hat and strode across my bedroom, yelling out to my brother as he steered a small hula hoop beside me. We kept sailing, from center O at 8°00’ N and 15°99’E to Beryllium Island at 3°00’ N and 9°01’ W. It was a treacherous voyage, because we were quickly losing ionization energy!

That was me, alongside with my brother, hopping in our parents’ bedroom with the periodic table in our hands as a guiding map to an imaginary treasure… Many years ago… When I still believed the periodic table was a real treasure map…

The memories flooded back as I stood in awe among the collections of rocks, minerals, and many other interesting specimens in the basement of Rudolph Hall for the first time. Marveling at the color and luster of the specimens and wondering about the story behind each cleavage and fracture, I thought this was the hidden treasure of WashU.

Therefore, dear readers, this is my challenge for you to find your way to this place on your next visit!

Meanwhile, let me share with you some fun facts about Rudolph Hall, one of the most interesting buildings on Danforth Campus!

Matthew A. Grossman Museum of mineral specimens and meteorites is located in Rudolph Hall and is home to a variety of rocks and specimens collected from all over the world. I could venture from the carbonates to the oxides and make some pit stops to check out the fluorites and halides. My favorite ones were the chondrites, undifferentiated fragments of asteroids which showed evidence of thermal and shock change in structure of rock layer.

If you don’t feel like walking across the periodic table, then how about hopping across the solar system in a scaled plane walk just outside Rudolph? To the eastern side of the building, the pavement is engraved with disks representing the planets with scaled spacing. At least twice a week, I would cross this walk on my way to class and every time I would slow down to pick up one piece of information written on the surface of the disks to keep as my “fun fact of the day.”

In the spirit of human space exploration, there is a publicity model of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) inside the atrium of Rudolph Hall. The MER mission is still going on and being led by Professor Arvidson who is a NASA scientist and investigator.

There is also a nice surprise in a hidden corner that will surely bring wonders to any visitor: rocks that glow. The display is made up of various specimens of minerals, rocks, and gemstones (diamond, ruby, sapphire…) that fluoresce when exposed to UV light!

              A peek at the glowing collection!

Of course, there are many more surprises for you to discover. I should not spoil too much but just let on that this place has kept my childish dream and fantasy alive, through all the busy classes, social life, and “growing up” hustles. There is a part of me that still wonders, asks silly questions about some piece of rocks, makes up stories in my mind to account for things I see, and always, always looks for answers as well as new adventures. This little corner of Rudolph Hall is a safe sanctuary for pure curiosity and love for knowledge!

Pop quiz for you! (Answer found in Rudolph Hall basement!)

So what are you waiting for? Let’s start an adventure today!