I held a moon rock.
Bacdk in the 1980’s, I worked at a space science museum. We had a moon rock on display, in what looked like a “sealed” box. The moon rock was real, the sealed box was a display. It wasw filled with ordinary air, not any exotic noble gas.
One night we had to move the displays as the carpet in the area was being replaced.
I helped dismantle the display, and actually carried the moon rock to a safe in the admin office (exposed to air or not, that little chunk of granite was worth more than my house).
Apparently many of the moon rocks you can see at science museums are ones that have been exposed to air or othjer contaminants, making them less suitable for bona fide scientiofic research…
So what esoteric or unique things have you done?
I held a Nobel Prize. Not mine
I spent a week crossing and re-crossing the international date line several times a day.
I petted a whale that had been caught accidentally in a trawler net - it was released without apparent harm.
I handled fake moon rocks. Literally, it was a material specially produced as a lunar regolith simulant. It has many of the mechanical and physical properties of lunar soil, and its used for various studies, such a designing drills for moon probes.
What else… I had lunch in the cafeteria of the European Parliament. It was pretty expensive, for a cafeteria.
I performed an experiment in a supersonic wind tunnel.
I touched a real life Rembrandt painting while in college many years ago.
Also touched a moon rock, at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Worked for NASA. Many esoterics there.
I was a member of the Press at the first launch of the Space Shuttle.
Played a wargame with two famous game designers – at the same time. Since it was a playtest of the game he was developing, one of them didn’t count, but I didn’t even recognize the other guy till well afterward (he was acting just like a regular playtester.)
I swam in water two miles deep.
(I saw the original tires from the Spirit of St. Louis (the ones that were on it during the New York-to-Paris flight) and could have reached out and touched them. I was not worthy.)
Having sex with a guy whilst at the same time watching a porn film that he was staring in. Quite strange.
I used to work on an explosive testing range, and although the ordinance techs usually kept us pretty far from the actual explosives, I’ve ran my fingers through TNT, ANFO, held detacord and detasheet, as well as hauling around spent 5" HVAR (high velocity aircraft rocket). I’ve also seen C4 both before, during, and after detonation, and several 110mm and similar tank rounds being shot into concrete. I can’t wait to finish my graduate studies so I can go back!
That’s pretty flippin’ neat! I wrote a program once to figure out how far up a projectile would go if it was shot at about Mach 4 straight into the air. I took into account the changing gravity based on how far from the center of the earth it was, as well as the changing coefficient of drag based on altitude and Mach number (they probably accounted for less than was statistically significant, but it was still cool).
I helped carry and load the human-powered flight vehicle Daedalus that’s now hanging in the Boston Museum of Science. For some reason they took it down and were taking it somewhere, and I just happened to be passing by (It was a Monday, so the Museum was closed, and it was early morning). They needed an extra hand to help with it. It must not have been gone long, because it was soon back up. That thing is light! But that’s the point.
Well, I dunno how esoteric this is, really, but it’s at least unusual: I helped a hot air balloon crew pack up their balloon after they crash-landed in our front yard. The next time they took the balloon out, they gave us all rides, and made us crew members.
Since someone else mentioned video game designers: I watched John Carmack play Doom II multiplayer against another member of the ID Software team before the game was released, at their offices in DFW. The winner got 30 kills in about 10 minutes.
In the 70’s moon rocks were being sent on tour across the USA to stop at schools. Many children touched a moon rock. I can remember the location in the hall where I touched it.
I ate lunch with Tommy Smothers … although that wasn’t the only thing we did. He also showed me his yo-yo’s.
Mind out the gutter, please :D. He was narrating a documentary I worked on, and he spent the day with us cutting the audio and shooting location sequences.
(I suppose this is more Close Encounters with a Celebrity than esoteric, but it’s the most interesting thing I’ve done, probably, aside from photographing Cheryl Ladd!)
My mother was a science teacher and a relative of friends was a high ranking NASA official. The first space shuttle, Columbia, had a problem with losing external tiles during the first launches. He sent her two of them that fell off during the first launch and we did things like put them on the stove and pick them up to note that they didn’t heat much. I thought they were so interesting as a kid.
After Columbia burned up on re-entry I ask my mother where they were. She gave them away on a whim to somebody utterly inconsequential and totally unappreciative of anything like that. I was furious to say the least and I am still upset about it. She is a complete ditz about giving anything away to almost anyone that asks.
I’ve been aboard the U.S.S. Currituck Split-Hull Dredge when it was dredging Portsmouth NH’s harbor, very interesting ship, it sucks up sediment from the harbor bed, depositing it in the ship’s hopper, then the ship motors out to the dumping ground and the hull splits lengthwise, dropping the sediment and sand where it can be redeposited on beaches by wave action
there’s just something…eerie being on board a ship that’s splitting open yet still floating…
I’ve had my hands on a couple historical artifacts. (Judging by the above responses, moon rocks are pretty mundane. Just how many rocks did NASA bring back??)
About a year ago, I was able to touch a piece of Titanic’s hull, and I’ve also been able to play with a captured German Enigma.
I’ve eaten Iceberg ice both in the Antarctic and the coast of Newfoundland (my 10 year old girl sailed out to get the bergie bits).
Snorkeled with basking sharks, scuba’d with pointier sharks, but no GW yet.
Eaten doliolids and krill.
Seen the square trees and golden frogs of the panamanian rain forest.
Crossed the equator by ship, making me a shellback. I guess that’s not esoteric, thousands of sailors back to at least Columbus have done that.
Nan Madol, Stonehenge and the Ali’i birthing stones. (love them stones).
Next month I hope to touch the Atlantic and the Pacific on the same day.
I forgot to mention the time that I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhauser Gate. That was cool.