Ice sculptures

Student life at the University of Chicago is famously un-fun: we were, in fact, voted last on a national list of “fun colleges”—and the students are proud of it! Every year, for instance, the students sell tee-shirts showing our school at the bottom of the fun rankings, along with the motto “The University of Chicago: Where fun comes to die.” (Another favorite shirt proclaims: “The University of Chicago: Hell does freeze over.”)

But the administration does its best to try to enliven the College Experience for a bunch of studious kids.  Sadly, their “idea” of fun involves things like having students get up at 6 a.m. on days as cold as this and gather at the gym daily for a week to do group exercises (I think they used to do them by the lake in the freezing weather). Calisthenics build solidarity!

Our winter fun also includes ice sculpture. Once a year, during the coldest weather, the U of C hires several ice sculptors to carve blocks of ice in the quad right outside my lab.  They’re quite amazing—at least until they’re vandalized, which takes about a week.

They just went up this week, so here are two showing the U of C emblems: a phoenix and a gargoyle:

Ice sculpture

During the day. Note the modern touch: that scanning code, whatever it’s called.

Ice sculpture 2

photo 8

photo 7

26 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Excellent ice art!

  2. Hempenstein
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    The second one looks like a winged c*t. Eye-ing your squirrels?

  3. mordacious1
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    We used a lot of ice when I was in college too.

  4. moarscienceplz
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    if the Theory of Evolution is true, how come there aren’t any real phoenixes or gargoyles?
    CHECKMATE, evolutionists!

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Oops, my /silliness tag didn’t print.

  5. Stan Pak
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    They use computers and machines (CNC ice carving machines) to carve these sculptures. That is why they look so perfect.

  6. TJR
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Very nice.

    In order to do a similar thing at UK universities we would need to find a way of creating art out of puddles.

    Any ideas?

    • thh1859
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      TJR: In sunny weather (joke) add a few drops of oil to a medium-sized puddle. Take time-lapse photos with the camera tripoded and, either or both, make glossy prints from the better examples of the spectrum patterns or import the photos into movie software using fade transitions between each.

  7. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    During the day. Note the modern touch: that scanning code, whatever it’s called.

    QR code

    • Moarscienceplz
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think the QR code is made out of ice. It looks to me that it is just a plexiglass sign that the company sets next to their sculptures.

  8. Kevin
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Very nice. Amazing, really.

  9. Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Great job!

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Nice!

  11. Simon Hayward
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I am visualizing John Cleese as Basil Faulty saying “don’t mention the zamboni”

    • Merilee
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • nurnord
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      I am visualizing John Cleese as Basil Faulty saying “don’t mention the zamboni”

      – Your spelling is Fa’w’lty.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 29, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        But so was the Fawlty Towers sign. Fatty Owls was my favourite.

        • nurnord
          Posted January 29, 2014 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          Yep, I have all 12 episodes on DVD here, I always note the rearrangements(ish)…

  12. John J. Fitzgerald
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Those are phoenixes, not gargoyles.

    I think!

    John J. Fitzgerald

    • George
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      The first two are phoenixes, the next two are gargoyles.

      • JohnnieCanuck
        Posted January 29, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Best I can tell, that is not a gargoyle but rather a grotesque.

        It appears its mouth is closed so it cannot represent a waterspout, which is a requirement in order to be considered a gargoyle.

  13. dongiovanni
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    What, you don’t have angry left – wing radicals that occupy buildings?

  14. nurnord
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    “Note the modern touch: that scanning code, whatever it’s called.”

    QR code (Quick Response Code), Jerry.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qr_code

  15. Posted January 30, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Cool! (Sorry.)

    /@

  16. Filippo
    Posted January 31, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    “Student life at the University of Chicago is famously un-fun: we were, in fact, voted last on a national list of “fun colleges”—and the students are proud of it!”

    I would be proud too. Had I to do it over, I would have explored attending the U of C or some other more serious institution, as opposed to the nearby path-of-least resistance/close-to-the-apron strings-of-home “football school.”

    What omniscient, enlightened soul presumes to be so in-the-know about such matters as to be competent to publish such a list? Some Twenty-Something football obsessive? What institutions are in the top ten of that list, and what does that say about their aspirations? (I know there have been “Party School” lists.) There’s a difference between fun and fatuous.

    Apparently, Bread and Circuses, not Enlightenment is the purpose of a university to such a fatuous mindset.


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