This morning I read an article in this week's New Yorker (Jan 11, 2010) about Mark Fuller and his water fountains. From the time he was a teenager he was passionate about the movement of water along with engineering and set design.
In college he learned about laminar flow. Bear with me for a minute and read this quote to understand his breakthrough or just skip this paragraph and continue.
Here's a quote to explain laminar flow:
"In an ordinary garden hose, the water flow is turbulent. Water molecules bounce off one another chaotically, moving at different velocities, under changing pressure. When the water is projected out of the nozzle, it splinters into spray. In a laminar stream, the molecules all flow in the same direction, and surface tension binds the water as it emerges from the nozzle into a glassy rod that holds together, like a laser beam and looks heavier, ropier, and wetter than water in a turbulent-flow stream."
Anyway Fuller made the first laminar-flow fountain for his college senior thesis, he became a Disney Imagineer and eventually started his own business called WET (Water Entertainment Technologies).
Today, his fountains are breathtaking spectacles around the world. Steve Wynn, the developer of Las Vegas' Bellagio was instrumental in the backing Fuller's company at the outset. Wynn gave Fuller a giant platform to test and create his dreams in the mid-1990s. Since then, WET has built fountains around the world. One of his latest is the new fountain at the center of Lincoln Center.
On first seeing the Ballagio fountain Wynn was overcome:
"I'll never forget that moment. Within sixty seconds I knew--this is it. It was the most incredible feeling."
A WET designer said:
"There's something extraordinarily emotional about that fountain. The waster is so alive--it is life. And people get very emotional around it. You see people crying--just overwhelmed by the spectacle"
Here's some video of the fountain:
Now I've never been to Las Vegas, and I'm more likely to be in awe of Niagara Falls or Yosemite's Bridal Falls than the Bellagio's fountain. But I can see and appreciate passion, the passion of Mark Fuller to pursue his interests and create something unique and spectacular. Most people (myself included) capably move through their lives holding jobs, caring for their families, etc. What would it be like to have a passion and make it happen on a grand scale? I'm still searching for mine.