Artist Bob Wysocki and geologist Jeff Karson, both of Syracuse University in upstate New York, have their own personal volcano. It’s an old furnace that used to melt bronze for statues. Now, it melts hundreds of pounds of basaltic gravel at a time, mimicking the process inside the earth’s crust that creates lava. The driveway where the two men perform their experiments (and create their art) is the only place you can find flowing lava within a thousand miles of NPR’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
So of course, I had to drive up and see it.
In this video, I learn how lava once caused a diplomatic standoff in Europe, nearly have my eyebrows burned off while leaning over a giant cauldron, and roast marshmallows without the help of a campfire. And along the way I, too, discover lava’s allure.
To see and hear more hot adventures from the intersection of science and culture, check out NPR’s science tumblr, skunkbear.tumblr.com.