(Submitted by reader Jeff Wagg)
Last summer, I surprised my girlfriend with a mystery trip to St. Louis. She agreed to get in the car without knowing our destination, and as I drove the five hours south, she watched the signs and tried to guess where we were going. By the time we hit Dwight, IL, she had it figured out.
My primary destination was an amazing place called simply “City Museum.” This rather mundane and non-descriptive title belies the wonders waiting inside.
Housed in a large old shoe factory, City Museum features airplanes suspended in mid-air, connected by human-sized habitrails. A school bus leans over the side of the building, and you’re invited to sit in the driver’s seat and open the door at the 150 foot drop. Inside is the world’s largest pencil, a ten story spiral slide, a circus, a carnival sideshow, an architectural museum, and a complex network of caves and tree houses all connected by tunnels, bridges and secret passages.
The things listed above account for about 5% of what this unique place offers.
Jen (my girlfriend) was very interested in the tunnels, but as I had badly twisted my ankle in a cave earlier in the day, I was taking it easy in a room filled with waterways and dinosaurs. As I’m wont to do, I checked Twitter to see what was going on in the world, and I saw a tweet that amazed me. It was from Magician and magic designer Andrew Mayne, and though I don’t have a copy of the actual tweet, it went something like this:
“I just had a dream about a white pterodactyl. It was so real.”
This doesn’t seem like unusual dreamtime fare for a magician, but the amazing part was that directly above me, at the exact moment he tweeted that short message was this:
Andrew and I are friends, but we’re not super close friends and I doubt he even knew I was in St. Louis. I know of no webcams at City Museum, and even if he did know I was there, the place is large enough that his assumption that I’d be in the same room with, nevermind standing underneath, a life-sized pterodactyl of the unusual color ”white” would be amazing in itself.
My best explanation is that this truly was a coincidence, and while I could point out the fact that Andrew has hundreds and hundreds of Twitter followers, and that the chances of any one of them finding some connection to one of his tweets is quite likely, the specificity of this particular coincidence is such that I felt it worthy of inclusion here.
By the way, if you’d like a great opportunity to see the City Museum, some of us are putting on a first-year conference there, called the College of Curiosity. It’s on May 26th, and will last ALL DAY. I promise you’ll leave having experienced things you’ve never imagined.
That is, unless you’re a sleeping magician.
[EDITOR: First off, this place sounds FANTASTIC. If I had any chance of being in town for that event, I'd definitely be there. Sounds like something you could visit over and over again and never run out of new things to see. As for the actual story, well... this one's really hard to put clear thoughts behind. We can try to start listing out the number of people Jeff follows on Twitter, the average numbers of tweets across those people, and all sorts of other factors, but it falls apart when you start dealing with what people DREAM about. A pterodactyl? I can't imagine people don't regularly dream about the critters, but it's still likely a pretty small number of people each night. And a white one at that? Far more specific. The timing of it being the night before Jeff went is pretty interesting, but then you realize if the dream ever occurs it will ALWAYS be the night before probably hundreds or thousands of people visit this museum. So then we have to come around to the fact that someone who specifically follows Andrew was at the museum the next day. Slimmer margin, although he does have nearly 4,000 followers. And finally the fact that Jeff happened to look at Twitter at that moment. Would it have counted if he had looked at it five minutes later, though? Probably. Saw the pterodactyl five minutes later? Just as likely. Then we can start adjusting to any of the other odd attractions in the place and things people dreamed about. With tweaks and modifications you can find that a lot of variations would have garnered the exact same reaction, raising the odds that SOMETHING would have gotten this amazing coincidence from SOMEONE. That someone happened to be our friend Jeff. And to him it was crazy. And it is to us, too. - Jarrett
And we don't mind at all promoting The College of Curiosity - in fact, curiosity is our favorite educational resource! - Wendy]