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One of the most curious phenomena that has been observed around the University in Several years, may now be seen in operation in the Peabody Museum.
In one of the large glass cases on the third floor, a small double basket of wicker work is suspended by an ordinary piece of copper wire from the top of the case. The wire is fastened to a nail which, if we disregard the aid of the occult sciences, can be found to possess no unusual qualities.
And yet the basket turns; slowly but steadily, with the measured pace of an ancient pendulum. Half way round to the right, then, back a full turn to the left, a never ceasing motion. Visitors that it is bound to slow up and finally watch it with fascination, expecting stop, but the basket continues to swing, just as it has done for the last six months.
The basket itself is a piece of native work from Borneo which the Museum received last October. It was hung, with many similar objects, in the Pacific Islands room of the Museum for exhibition. Its turning motion was noted immediately and at first thought to be merely the result of the impetus caused by its installation. The strange turning continued, however, and gradually drew the attention of an increasing number of scholars and professors.
Although several theories about the cause of this phenomenon have been formulated none are entirely satisfactory, and the turning basket still remains a mystery in the minds of most of those who have observed it.
One physicist advances the idea that perpetual air currents caused by the difference of temperature in the upper and lower parts of the case are the cause. This theory falls, however, in the chill light of fact, for the case is absolutely airtight.
Another more ingenius and plausible theory is that the movement of the basket is due to vibration. The vibrations in this case are supposed to come from the Cambridge power paint, and the basket is assumed to be exactly at the vibration point. Its balance is so nice, moreover, that the slightest disturbance might conceivably keep it in motion. But even this theory, exemplifying as it does the most intricate reaches of modern science, strains the credulity of the ignorant layman.
A third suggestion, which is valuable chiefly for its connotative possibilities, was put forth by the man who installed the mysterious basket, when he suggested that "Margery" be paged. Although Harvard students know that "Margery" is a fake, this idea may bring a host of patential explanations to their minds.
The great stone gods torn from their native jungles in the Yucatan and Mexico, or the weird spirits stolen from their haunts in the South Sea Isles suggest an explanation far more in keeping with the slow uncanny revolution of the basket, than the most learned expositions of science.
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