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Beijing's Olympic Cauldron .... how'd they do that?  It wasn't there, and then it was.

Short answer: Hide it on the stadium roof and lower it into place while everyone was looking down.

Here's the skinny (courtesy of xinhuanet) and some pictures too.

The secrecy of the cauldron became a top priority after it was positioned on top of the Bird's Nest.  A 30-meter upturned-U-shaped air-cushioned facility was set up to house the big torch. The cauldron, which stirred much guesswork before the ceremony, had actually been lying flat on top of the opening stadium for more than two months.
    

Engineers also designed a rail and a small cart to carry the cauldron, so that the monster could move smoothly above the rugged beam surface from the previous location to the edge of the venue opening.  Hydraulic equipment was used to make it stand up for the flame-lighting, including a hydraulic jack to push it up and another device to hold the bottom.  The whole facility, plus the cauldron, weighed about 405 tons.  The cauldron's final journey, horizontally and up, was designed to start at the touch of a button. Automatic controls were used to minimize accidents.
          
  
"We pressed the button at 10:08 p.m. on August 8, when thousands of audiences were attentively watching the parade of athletes, and the cauldron was in place at 10:24 without being noticed," said Su Baozhen, deputy general manager of Shougang.
      

Even with all the competition, the opening ceremony and lighting of the cauldron are still the coolest thing so far!