Holographic elephants shine new light on tradition—and other innovations
From high-tech circus animals to sultry orchids, these discoveries question age-old assumptions.
At Circus Roncalli, based in Cologne, Germany, the dancing elephant is 20 feet tall. Such a behemoth should weigh more than 10 tons, but this creature is weightless—and slightly translucent. It’s a three-dimensional hologram, a six-million-pixel creation that performs thanks to 15 engineers, more than 3,000 processors, and 11 laser beams. The spectacle is “a combination of nostalgic circus with modern elements,” says founder and director Bernhard Paul. The circus animates holographic fish and horses as well as elephants but bills itself as “otherwise animal free.” The innovation has been applauded for respecting both circus tradition and animal protection. —Claire Wolters
The word of the day: orchis. It’s a genus of the orchid plant. It’s the Greek