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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Biggest Bottle-Cap Pyramid? Up to a Point

On Friday, Oleg and Vadim Goryunov came within a hair's breadth of tragedy.

The pyramid they have been building out of bottle tops was already more than 250,000 high, more than half the amount required for their team at Moscow's Polytechnical Museum to make it into the Guinness Book of Records as the creators of the world's biggest bottle-top pyramid. Bar none.

They had taken every conceivable precaution. Using precise instruments, the floor was made perfectly level. Team members measured the force of the tremors made by subway cars passing underneath. And at every step, the builders held each other securely to prevent the catastrophic fall they all dreaded.

The rules, strictly set by Guinness Book of Records editors in London, require the caps to be placed by a person with at least one foot on the floor, unaided by trestles or ladders. And they cannot be glued together. It isn't easy.

"Look at this," said Vadim Goryunov, Oleg's brother. "It's so beautiful, the Egyptian Embassy even donated all of this papyrus to decorate the room."

It was at this moment that tragedy so nearly struck. Did the Goryunovs know that Guinness required a four-sided pyramid? Theirs had only three sides.

"What?" said Oleg, turning ashen. "What do you mean? Why four? But we thought of everything!"

The pyramid's construction began Dec. 19, and as of Friday, after more than a month of labor, the Goryunovs had put a lot of bottle tops on this pyramid; unfortunately, they had been working with false information. Guinness guidelines specify a four-sided pyramid with a square base. Their pyramid -- impressive though it was -- was illegitimate.

It was an honest mistake. The current record pyramid, built in Kiev in 1991, was built with 362,000 caps and it too had only three sides -- a mistake had been made and the Guinness Book of Records editors simply hadn't noticed.

With the help of The Moscow Times, the team quickly rallied itself to action. Suicide was ruled out and they instead entered into immediate negotiations with the The Guinness Book also acted on information provided by this paper in erasing the Kiev pyramid from the books. That pyramid had made it into print when the Guinness representative for Russia, Igor Zaitsev, misunderstood the Book's criteria in judging the record.

All of this is good news for the Goryunov brothers, who have been living "in a state of permanent terror" since the start of construction, worried that something will cause it to tumble.

"I have dreams about that pyramid, incredibly vivid dreams," said Vadim. "Whenever anyone walks by it, my heart leaps, because I can see it crashing. I can't tell you what this news almost did to me. But thank God for compromises."

The pyramid is scheduled to be completed Feb. 19, the 75th anniversary of the newspaper Trud, which is sponsoring the event. It will remain on display in the museum indefinitely, or until the team decides to destroy it.

"We're trying not to think about that," said Vadim. "Some of the Kiev people needed medical attention when they tore theirs down. We don't want that to happen with us."