Museum Tower vs. Nasher: Let's Peel Away the Junk and Get Back to Science

Time out. Wait a minute. Maybe it's my fault. Now we're all over the map and flying blind on the Museum Tower/Nasher Sculpture Center thing, headed for outer space. Let's see if we can't steer this ship back toward Mother Earth.

The protracted, very bitter dispute between two buildings in the downtown Dallas Arts District is about reflected sunlight. One, the sculpture center, claims glare from the other, a new glass-sheathed luxury condo building called Museum Tower, is ruining the viewing experience inside the sculpture galleries and burning up plants outside in the garden.

Over the last week the glare question got lost in a spin-off debate about public relations ploys and whether it's OK for people to create fake Facebook accounts in order to post anonymously on public issues. This is mea culpa, mea culpa on my part: I liked the Facebook fight better than the glare debate because the glare debate is about science and the few science courses I ever took persuaded me to go into journalism instead.

But the fight is about science. Not Facebook. A whole lot of absolutely bat-shit crazy off-the-wall stuff has been put out there concerning the science. In May 2012, for example, D Magazine Editor Demeritus Tim Rogers signed off at the end of a very long article attacking the condo tower with a line stating as fact that the glare coming off Museum Tower is tantamount to "the glaring light and searing heat generated by the power of two and a half suns."

Think about it. Wow. If Museum Tower can multiply the power of the sun itself by a factor of 2.5, maybe we should build a bunch of them and use them to replace all our nuclear reactors. But, wait. Museum Tower is composed of flat to convex surfaces. The way you got leaves to smoke as a back-yard Cub Scout was by focusing the sun's rays with a magnifying glass whose surface was concave, not convex. The trick was to focus the sun's rays, not disperse them. And I say all of this not without a pang of sympathy for the young Rogers boy who must have spent long afternoons in the back yard trying to set leaves on fire with a Coca Cola bottle. Perhaps there were tears.

See also: In the Nasher Fight, the Morning News Has a Double Standard

How did I get so smart about it? Actually I drew this point from a very interesting video, one I urge you to click on and watch, published by Museum Tower to explain the scientifically derived solution to the glare problem caused by their own building. In it, a scientist singles out Rogers' claim as an example of stuff that has been said during this fight that is just flat not true.

I have at least a couple reasons for urging you to watch this video. One, it's well made, reasonable in tone and presents what looks an awful lot like a clean way out of this mess and a good path back to Earth. But I could be wrong about it, and that brings me to my second reason for asking you to look at it.

In the Museum Tower/Nasher debate here on Unfair Park over the last week, you, the readers, have brought more information and more good sense to the table than I have seen in any of the monographs, including my own, written by paid journalists. Not to get back into the Facebook fight or anything, but taken as a whole, as a body of work, your comments are an excellent argument for the value of anonymous speech. (All right, wait, sorry, let's not go there.)

Here's a thing I can say about this eight-minute video that I don't believe is debatable. It's intriguing. They claim their solution is 100 percent effective and completely invisible. If you do look, watch for the moment when they pull this amazing Houdini magic trick on you: They make Museum Tower completely disappear.

I mean, c'mon. How do they do that? That's really why I want you to watch. I want you to tell me how they can make a 42-story condo tower vanish into thin air. I am open to any and all explanations and exposés, including telling me that they're using a huge trap door beneath the building. Maybe I should send this to The Amazing Randi He might be able to explain it.

So, you see, the truth is I was the one out in the back yard with the Coke bottle, crying. I am seriously science-challenged. But do look at this, please. And then tell me: true science or wacky flim-flam? In the meantime, I will be working on my next big investigation, whether oncologists should send out people's test results as tweets. Leaning toward yes at the moment, but it's a work in progress.

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