Cover of a Robert Delaunay catalogue.
Relevant and resonant extracts from art, science and life and the place where patterns begin to emerge.
Cover of a Robert Delaunay catalogue.
Above the main doorway into the Imperial College Physics building is a relief carving in a piece of Irish black limestone showing imagery emblematic of the status of physics around fifty years ago. It was made in the late 50's by Prof John Skeaping of the RCA. There is no information about this work on the web, though there are bits and pieces about John whose artworks are also held by the Tate Museum.
We have decoded the image here.
This great image of the orginal design was kindly supplied by Malcolm Hudson
Extracts from 'Poem Rocket'
The moon over Imperial College and a brilliantly lit planet.....
This morning's visit to the MSc optics lab with Peter Torok revealed this fantastic model for visualising the effect of a lense on light. Regard the lens positioned perpendicular to surface, to the left of the model. The highest peak is the focal point. These days, students usually see this rendered in 3-d on computer.
above - move optics lab
above - a model of the surface of light waves made in 1876, based on Fresnel's work in the 1820's on crystal optics. The surface represents a wave front of light radiating from a point in a crystal: Two shells touch each other in four places. (displayed in the Science Museum).
below - my shadow, south ken wall
Jenny Moncur created this flooring design in linoleum for the ICA in 1987. Every landing has a different pattern.
It's 1525 and Durer authors this treatise on geometry.
Durer shows how to cut a cone to obtain a parabola and on the right how light is reflected from a plane
surface and from a surface whose cross section is a parabola.
See - the Science Museum section on mathematics.
Found in the mathematics section of the Science Museum, this model was used in the late ninteenth century to illustrate lectures on equations. It is the surface for: Z=3a(x2-y2)-(x3+y3)
The blue line is a straight line, the green lines are ellipses, the red lines are parabolas, the black and yellow lines - cubic equations and the dark red line - a simple contour line.
Models like this inspired artists like Henry Moore and Max Ernst.
Suspended lion face
Spilling at the centre
Of an unfurnished sky
How still you stand,
And how unaided
Single stalkless flower
You pour unrecompensed.
The eye sees you
Simplified by distance
Into an origin,
Your petalled head of flames
Heat is the echo of your
Coined there among
You exist openly.
Our needs hourly
Climb and return like angels.
Unclosing like a hand,
You give for ever.
- from High Windows
If I were called inTo construct a religionI should make use of water.Going to churchWould entail a fordingTo dry, different clothes;My litany would employImages of sousing,A furious devout drench,And I should raise in the eastA glass of waterWhere any-angled lightWould congregate endlessly.
-- Philip Larkin
Sent by a physicist friend this morning for its beautiful imagery about light in the last verse.
An email from a theoretical physicist friend continued my thinking about butterflies... Chuang-tzu was a Taoist teacher and writer who lived in the fourth century BC.
"Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly" (莊周夢蝶 Zhuāng Zhōu mèng dié).
Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things. (2, tr. Burton Watson 1968:49)
Basho created this haiku in response.....
You are the butterfly
And I the dreaming heart
Irresistible title discovered in S. Ken book shop.
I continue to collect imagery some as potential material for my short film........
TR's pipe.....'ceci n'est pas une pipe'
DW's scratched, chalk dusty glasses
The Joan Miro show at Tate Modern finished week. The most memorable and stunning piece is the vast 1968 triptych: Painting on White Background for the Cell of a Recluse
Adrian Searle at the Guardian liked it too: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/apr/11/joan-miro-tate-modern
It needs to be seen to be appreciated. It is a world line, a strange trajectory, a life lived, a concise and beautiful statement.
Acrylic on canvas
267,8 x 352 cm
Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona
James Clerk Maxwell was a prolific poet and his poems often contain a mash up of life and physics. I particularly enjoyed his lectures to women............
(Note: Thankfully, women are now a significant minority in physics. At Imperial around of 25% students and faculty are women and the department lead is Prof Joanna Haigh).
PLACE. -- A small alcove with dark curtains.
The class consists of one member.
SUBJECT. -- Thomson’s Mirror Galvanometer.
The lamp-light falls on blackened walls,
And streams through narrow perforations,
The long beam trails o’er pasteboard scales,
With slow-decaying oscillations.
Flow, current, flow, set the quick light-spot flying,
Flow current, answer light-spot, flashing, quivering, dying,
O look! how queer! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, sharper growing
The gliding fire! with central wire,
The fine degrees distinctly showing.
Swing, magnet, swing, advancing and receding,
Swing magnet! Answer dearest, What's your final reading?
O love! you fail to read the scale
Correct to tenths of a division.
To mirror heaven those eyes were given,
And not for methods of precision.
Break contact, break, set the free light-spot flying;
Break contact, rest thee, magnet, swinging, creeping, dying.
Professor Chrschtschonovitsch, Ph.D., "On the C. G. S. system of Units."
Remarks submitted to the Lecturer by a student.
Prim Doctor of Philosophy
Front academic Heidelberg!
Your sum of vital energy
Is not the millionth of an erg.
Your liveliest motion might be reckoned
At one-tenth metre in a second.
"The air," you said, in language fine,
Which scientific thought expresses,
"The air -- which with a megadyne,
On each square centimetre presses --
The air, and I may add the ocean,
Are nought but molecules in motion."
Atoms, you told me, were discrete,
Than you they could not be discreter,
Who know how many Millions meet
Within a cubic millimetre.
They clash together as they fly,
But you! -- you cannot tell me why.
And when in tuning my guitar
The interval would not come right,
"This string," you said, "is strained too far,
’Tis forty dynes, at least too tight!"
And then you told me, as I sang,
What overtones were in my clang.
You gabbled on, but every phrase
Was stiff with scientific shoddy,
The only song you deigned to praise
Was "Gin a body meet a body,"
"And even there," you said, "collision
Was not described with due precision."
"In the invariable plane,"
You told me, "lay the impulsive couple."
You seized my hand -- you gave me pain,
By torsion of a wrist so supple;
You told me what that wrench would do, --
"’Twould set me twisting round a screw."
Were every hair of every tress
(Which you, no doubt, imagine mine),
Drawn towards you with its breaking stress --
A stress, say, of a megadyne,
That tension I would sooner suffer
Than meet again with such a duffer!
From this image and others in this series, I anticipated that Piet Mondrian was contemplating a deeper understanding of what makes up the world........ I discovered his words on the subject today.
'For there are 'made' laws, 'discovered' laws, but also laws - a truth for all time. These are more or less hidden in the reality which surround us and do not change. Not only science but art also, shows us that reality, at first incomprehensible, gradually reveals itself by the mutual relations that are inherent in things'.
Early morning light falling on 'all matter is the same', on the first day of September, 2011
Photo: Terry Rudolph