The Rock on Rocks

The actor playfully engages with a UW geoscience class.

During his last in-person lecture in March, Professor Stephen Meyers asked his Geoscience 100 students to dream big about the class’s future with the pandemic threatening to force them apart. They made a whimsical request: an interaction with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson about rocks.

Meyers, who draws analogies to the actor in his class, reached out to The Rock on Twitter. Such an inquiry to an A-list celebrity is almost certain to get lost in a black hole of millions (and millions) of mentions. But a few days later, The Rock responded with a string of charming tweets.

Tweet from Dwayne Johnson that reads, "Hello Professor and the 428 students of GeoSci 100 at University of Wisconsin–Madison. I'm flattered your students saw me as 'the dream,' much like my wife on our date nights... but I digress. My favorite geological place would be Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii. You can literally walk up."

His favorite geological place? Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, where he spent much of his childhood. His favorite geoscience topics? Seismology, paleontology, and oceanography. “Mother Nature rules,” he wrote.

And his favorite rock? “Well, from the three scientific classes of rocks — sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. I would have to go with the big, brown, bald, tattooed Rock,” he joked. “And if all your 428 students want a big fat A in this class, then that better be their favorite Rock, too.”

Meyers featured The Rock’s tweets in his final remote lecture in May. The recorded talk, titled “Living in an Uncertain World,” looked something like a short film. Meyers climbed to the top of his house, transforming his flat rooftop into a giant chalkboard to map out Earth’s systems and filming the dramatic scene with a drone. His video concluded with a poem for his students. “When I look at you,” Meyers wrote, “I see billions of years and a world of possibilities.”

Truly, after a geoscience lecture by The Rock, anything seems possible.

Published in the Fall 2020 issue

Tags: Science, Teaching and learning

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