ANU Hidden Gems: Have you seen this huge globe?

Monday 10 April 2017

Greenland at the very top has a little cartoon featuring penguins and polar bears on it, put there by the students.

The orographic globe. Photo: Stuart Hay, ANU.

If someone told you that stored in the basement of an ANU building was a large globe the size of a smart car, you probably wouldn't be surprised. It is ANU, after all.

But with a diameter of 180 centimetres, this orographic globe is so large that the doors of the storage room it's located in must be removed for it to be relocated.  

It is currently housed in the basement of the D. A Brown building until it can be moved to its new home in the Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES).

The globe - this week's Hidden Gem - was ordered by a telegram and purchased in the 1960s for the sum of £1,750 by Dr Mike Rickard, a staff member at the then ANU Geology Department.

It's now thought to be worth more than $20,000.

Dr Rickard and Geology students painted geological boundaries and major formations directly onto the globe over several years, making the globe a unique one-of-a-kind that links it to the University's history and its students.

"The globe has been used for teaching purposes for many years," Emeritus Professor Patrick De Deckker says. "It represents a significant archive for teaching."

Designed and constructed by English sculptor Charles d'Orville Pilkington Jackson who was also responsible for the Scottish landmark Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn, there is only one other globe of its kind in Australia on display at the Geology Department of the University of Tasmania. The original globe was even featured in the journal Nature in 1938.

"There is something iconic about the globe," Professor De Deckker says. "Greenland at the very top has a little cartoon featuring penguins and polar bears on it, put there by the students."

Professor De Deckker hopes the globe will be relocated to the front hall of the Jaeger 1 building at RSES, where it will be used for teaching and for visitors to examine.

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