GVSU students will get their 'Wrecking Ball' back... for science, not for riding

Nov 12, 2013

Grand Valley State University plans to reinstall a campus sculpture by December 6. 

The sculpture was removed on September 17 because students began to ride it.

The 'riding-the-ball' trend was in response to Miley Cyrus's hit single "Wrecking Ball." In the video, Cyrus is naked and rides the wrecking ball as it swings back and forth.

Apparently, the Grand Valley ball was not up to the task. The University said the steel cable that the ball was hung from began to fray, and the sculpture was removed.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith spoke with Tim Thimmesch, the associate vice president for facility services at GVSU. After the sculpture was removed Thimmesch said they would meet with "select students this week to get input on the best options to reinstall the piece."

“The intent is not for anybody to continue to use this as a ride. Again the intent will be to have this reinstalled as a scientific exhibit,” Thimmesch said.

And that's what we really want to know more about, right? The science behind this ball?

For more on that we turned to Dr. Richard Vallery, the Chair of the Department of Physics at Grand Valley State University.

He said that the pendulum used to be on display within Grand Valley's student union. When it was inside, it was an example of Foucault's famous pendulum, but when the sculpture was moved outside, it became a "bifilar pendulum."

A bifilar pendulum is different in that it has two connection points. Though you can't see it in the video above, the ball at the end of the cord is attached to two cords.

Depending on  the length of the cords, the pendulum will swing in different patterns. The ball at Grand Valley hangs above a pit of sand, so that students can see the patterns it makes. 

According to the Associated Press, the ball's reinstallation will include educational signs about its purpose.

Maybe students will be more interested in how the pendulum swings than how to ride it. 

- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom