• Acoustic dome in Mojave Desert hosts out-of-this-world events

    2014-08-08

    Summer is the season for stargazing and meteor showers, from viewing parties at observatories to isolated dark zones in the desert. One meteor-watching party in California comes with the added bonus of being held in a structure built in part by extraterrestrials - at least if you believe the claims of the building's designer. George Van Tassel, an engineer and test pilot, started work on the Integratron in the desert outside of Landers, California, in 1953, after allegedly receiving instructions from visitors from Venus.

    According to Van Tassel, the structure had healing properties based on its unique acoustics. The domed building sits on a geomagnetic anomaly, he claimed, which could amplify the power of sound waves formed within it. Although Van Tassel died in 1978, before he even had a chance to test the Integratron, the building is still around today.

    A new age
    In 2000, Nancy and Joanne Karl bought the Integratron and opened it to visitors. Since their purchase, the Karl sisters have renovated and maintained the building, from which they now run "sound baths," an acoustic immersion they say draws on the dome's acoustics to enhance its healing powers. However, questionable medical intervention isn't the Integratron's only draw. According its website, the Integratron also hosts think tanks, meditation groups and musicians.

    The BBC reported that artists such as the Arctic Monkey and the Arcade Fire have held sessions under the dome, and some have recorded performances.

    "We're not really a recording studio – you can hear it's not a foam-padded room. But musicians have recorded acoustic sets in here and got coyotes in the middle of the night and thought it was the raddest," Joanne Karl told the BBC.

    Starry eyed
    Of course, no new-age, ET-designed, resonant healing sound chamber in the middle of the desert would be complete if it didn't invite stargazers to its unique site. This year, the center held its eighth annual "Star Party," a viewing of the Perseid meteor shower. The party included a sound bath as well as a number of performances. This year, musicians, fire spinners and a screening of "The Wizard of Oz" synced to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" entertained guests. Guests to the interstellar party pay a $55 fee for the event, which goes to support the Mojave Land Trust. The trust protects 50,000 acres of the Mojave, a popular U.S. travel destination.

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