A Huge Boulder

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A Huge Boulder

Visitors stand beneath the "Levitated Mass."

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The ancient Greeks had the myth of Sisyphus, whom the Gods punished by compelling him to drag a giant stone up a hillside, only to have it roll back to its origin so that he had to repeat the task for eternity. Fortunately, the crew charged with moving a 340-ton (308.4-metric-ton), 21.5-foot (6.6-meter)-high boulder 85 miles (136.8 kilometers) from a valley in Riverside County, Calif., to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art only had to do it once.

Using heavy machinery, they hoisted the boulder -- believed to be the biggest ever moved -- onto a 176-wheel transporter truck, which then drove at night over roads that were temporarily closed to traffic so that it wouldn't present a hazard to motorists. The vehicle inched along at a speed of 10 miles per hour (16 kilometers per hour), and it took a week-and-a-half to make the journey. The purpose of this grueling exercise was to provide artist Michael Heizer with raw material for his giant outdoor sculpture "Levitated Mass," which allows visitors to walk down a 456-foot-long (139-meter), 15-foot-deep (4.5-meter) concrete trough that runs underneath the boulder. Michael Govan, the museum's chief executive, boasted to the Los Angeles Times that "it's pretty clear that this is one of the largest monoliths that's ever been moved" [sources: DesignTaxi, Times Editors].

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