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What the…?

FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-There’s a new addition to Fort Wayne’s Science Central, to the exhibits that demonstrate and help explain the natural world and how it works. But the new kid on the science block isn’t indoors, it’s outdoors at the front entrance, greeting visitors the way the sun greets the morning.

And that’s kind of what it’s all about,” says Julie Williams of Fort Wayne’s Sister Cities program, “is bringing us together and sharing some commonalities.”

This odd looking nine thousand pound chunk of limestone is a scientific instrument, a sundial unlike any you’ve seen. Traditional sundials usually look like this, the shadow cast by a center triangle marks the time of day as the sun moves across the sky. This sundial works the same way but uses a one of a kind design. The shadow cast by a stainless steel bar moves across the dial face telling time not just in Fort Wayne but also half a world away in Takaoka, Japan, one of Fort Wayne’s Sister Cities. A half-size version of the same sundial in Takaoka does the same thing.

So you can look at the sundial and read the time in Takaoka, Japan and Fort Wayne,” explains Williams. “At the same time and the people in Takaoka can tell the time in Fort Wayne and Takaoka at the same time.”

The sundial was designed and carved by New Haven sculptor Tim Doyle. Tim passed away a couple of years ago but not before leaving a permanent mark on 21 Country. You see his work at New Haven city hall, the huge limestone logo over the front entrance is his. Tim carved the sundial in 1980 and it sat in front of the Arts United building until it was moved in 2007 to make way for a brick patio. After twelve years in storage it was restored by Fort Wayne sculptor Cary Shaffer and a few weeks ago reinstalled at Science Central with a mission to instruct as well as inform.

So I think it’s really cool to be able to teach the general public the different way that humanity has tried to understand the natural world around us,” says Science Central’s Justin McAfee, “and here at Science Central we’re all about understanding the natural world.”

Understanding the world and all the cultures that call it home, the mission of Fort Wayne’s Sister Cities program and the odd looking newcomer at 21 Country’s premier science lab.

Eric Olson

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