Understanding Dark Matter and Dark Energy
I’m currently reading Richard Panek’s The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality that tells the story of the standard cosmological model, starting in 1965 and leading up to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. Panek’s anecdotes are informative and enjoyable, describing dark matter and dark energy’s reveal through the work of unusual physicists and astronomers. But being a visual learner, I needed to “see” the numbers. So… Voila! Behold the the Jelly Bean Universe, a visual representation explaining atoms (4% lightly-colored beans) and the rest of the universe (96% black beans, equaling 23% dark matter and 73% dark energy) — “dark” simply meaning unknown.
Bonus: Learn how to make your own universe on YouTube from Fermilab’s Kurt Riesselmann, the man who deconstructed John Updike’s Cosmic Gall poem.
Credit: Photo by Fermilab.
From Outer to Inner Space, Telescopic to Microscopic
Charles and Ray Eames take us on “an adventure of magnitudes” with the logarithmic scale in Powers of Ten — from life-size to cosmic then atomic. It is the design duo’s most notable film, a poetic and influential masterpiece in experimental filmmaking and visualization. The project began as early as 1961 (largely inspired by the 1957 book Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps by Kees Boeke) and was piloted in 1968 as an 8-minute, black-and-white version at the Conference on College Physics. Nine years later, the Eameses were able to revisit the film and update its look with color and new narration by Philip Morrison, a physics professor at MIT and close friend who collaborated on the 1977 version along with his wife Phylis.
Credit: POWERS OF TEN © 1977 EAMES OFFICE, LLC.
“The key contribution [to ‘big data’] that artists can make is in helping to create meaning and poetry from these vast data fields.” —Nicola Triscott, founder of The Arts Catalyst
Nicola Triscott posted an update to her blog about Roger Malina’s keynote at ISEA2012 — Big Data, New Senses and the Avatar as Other in Cosmology. Triscott gives seven examples of art from data arrays including:
The Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie (also later shown in ISEA2011 in Istanbul) was a projection showing the currents circulating the central Antarctic land mass. These were generated in real-time and mapped against other environmental data sets – tidal flow, wind direction, geochemical and atmospheric flux – to produce flickering constellations of carbon circulation and wind direction. Watching the artwork, it is tempting to see the swirling forms as representative of an Antarctic wilderness, however the patterning effect is as much a product of human activities as natural ecologies. Whilst respecting the underlying science, the work sought to develop a sensibility to the dynamics of ecological complexity as pattern and felt experience rather than quantity and measure.
For more examples, read on…
Want to take a look inside the human body? As Apple says, “There’s an app for that.” With funding from the National Science Foundation, Green-Eye Visualization has developed Powers of Minus Ten — an interactive tour of the science behind cells and genetics. Get it on iTunes.
Art-Sci-Tech has so much going on in various avenues, areas, and communities. Its complexity makes it difficult to visualize.
There’s the blanket term “new media art.” Then there’s bioart, information art, algorithmic art, genomic art, maker/DIY art, hacker art, eco art, cybernetic art, video art, kinetic art, interactive art, etc. Other areas of experimentation include robotics, virtual reality, gaming, citizen science, and more, which just touches the surface.
I like Andrea Grover’s simple chart trying to explain the areas (above):
…the practice has mostly moved outside rarified institutions and industries (the relationships were too complex and tied to capitalism and results-oriented economics), and into the hands of individuals and collectives (facilitated by networked communication which gave agency to maker culture, the open source movement, peer-to-peer sharing, crowdsourcing, etc.). From there, the types of activities exploded and yielded a variety of subtypes of Artists/Scientists/Technologists.
How would YOU make a map, diagram or chart of the many communities at the intersection of art, science, and technology?
A mesmerizing video of “Clair de lune” by Claude Debussy