Category Archives: art & science

Go with the flow

I discover the beautiful fluid motion videos from Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi of the Fluid-Structure Interaction Lab at UAmherst:

fluid speckle (by Modarres-Sadeghi, FSI/UAmherst)

These images and videos just show us how much information can be gained from a random signal (the marbled incoming flow) when it is coherent (linear flow) preserve correlation in space and time.

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Alain sous tous ses Aspect

Alain Aspect just received an amply deserved Nobel prize in Physics – adding one drawing to my collection of Nobel Prize drawings

Drawing by Alain Aspect (2010)

I recall bumping on him at the cafeteria at Ecole Polytechnique back in the days, and asking him questions which he often dismissed in two sentences…

Incidentally, the last time I went there in December 2019 to visit my friend Franck Delmotte (Director of study at Institute of Optics Graduate School), he was just besides us.

Alain Aspect at the Ecole Polytechnique cafeteria on December 17, 2019

Scientists on screen

There isn’t much representation of scientists in popular culture, with a only few movies standing out, such as a “A Beautiful Mind” (on John Nash) or “Good Will Hunting.” There’s been a few more in the biopic genre lately, such as the “Imitation Game” on Alan Turing or “The Theory of Everything” on Stephen Hawking, and soon a movie on Robert Oppenheimer by Chris Nolan.

But the representation of women in science and technology is even less frequent. Things seem to be changing, and during the pandemic there’s been a few biopics on women scientists, to which I want to bring attention to:

(credit: @truffleduster)

All of them have been deprived of a theatrical release, and I find it a bit sad they haven’t been delayed, but perhaps there’s been increased distribution through streaming platforms.
I should also mention slightly older movies such as “Hidden Figures“, “Contact“, “Arrival” and “Interstellar” – surprisingly all about space exploration.
Why can’t we see beakers, petri dishes and lasers?

Origami

I recently read the amazing book “New Expressions in Origami Art” by Meher McArthur, that I found at the shop Paper Tree in the Japan Town of San Fransisco (it’s one of my favorite shops; they always have stunning origami on display, some for sale, from many origamists featured in the book.)

Every page of the book is a delight, where a modern twists (abstraction, wet folding, tessellation) on origami always bring something very fresh.

One Crease, by Paul Jackson

While reading the book and learning about Goran Konjevod (who seems to be a colleague from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), I stumbled on the work of Amanda Ghassaei, who has created the Origami Simulator and many other cool simulation tools producing mesmerizing results.

https://twitter.com/amandaghassaei/status/1352605937077522434

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aknownspace

My friend Sana has started a wonderful literary project called “A known space.”

Here’s the first issue: A known space: Vol. 1: Nucleus (my personal contribution: The Sound of the waves)

credit: Szymon Kobusiński – TRANSSUBSTANTIATIO

Wade on!

Brutalism in Berkeley

One silver lining of the shelter-in-place is that you get to go out with no other goal than going out, and you discover new things about your city. I was always intrigued by the Brutalist architecture in the Bay Area – the first time I encountered it was at the Berkeley Art Museum during the Uncharted Festival in 2013. This kind of architecture, promoted by Mario Ciampi in the Bay Area, is often maligned, and while I can’t say I like, I definitely recognize its esthetic impact.
The name brutalism comes not from the word “brute” (though it could!), but from the French word “brut,” where it signifies “raw” as in raw concrete. Here are a few buildings I stumbled upon who may qualify for the category. Enjoy!

Woo Hon Fai Hall, in Berkeley, CA (former Berkeley Art Museum, BAMPFA)

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Know your Burning Man art

The world is burning with fear, and the best thing we can do is the burn the fear with arts – and that’s the central appeal of Burning Man.

Burning Man is a ten-day long arts festival in the desert, in Black Rock City, NV (a 4 hours drive from San Fransisco) and usually held at the end of August, where people come for the peculiar experience, littered with real life arts. This event is among the only in the world where people do art for the sake of art, without galleries or commissioning needed, thanks to its sheer scale and captive audience (70,000 people over a week.) There are many groups of artists preparing arts year long, in the hope to touch the heart of others; some even get commissioned and get to build real big stuff. Some of them may be ephemeral, but their legacy lives on.

Associated acts

The influence of Burning man runs deep, especially in the Bay Area. For example, the lights blinking on the Bay Bridge (Bay lights) where partly an offshoot of a Burning Man project by Leo Villareal, whereas the “Day For Night” built on Jim Campbell’s experience. The latter recently had an exhibition at the Hosfelt gallery in San Francisco which was… illuminating.

The sculptor Marco Cochrane is also famous for the Bliss series, his large sculptures of iron mesh of dancing characters, found on Treasure Island and at festival in California.

A piece for No Spectator, at The Oakland Museum of California (2020) – HYBYCOZO, Trocto, 2014

There was recently a very tiny retrospective of Burning Man arts at the Oakland Museum of California, No Spectator: The Art of Burning Man. It didn’t render the scale of the event, but it allowed people to get a sense of what’s happening there, and tell the history of the event. Continue reading

I trawl the terahertz

Last year I’ve discovered Paddy McAloon’s re-edition of “I Trawl the Megahertz” (published as Prefab Sprout) in happenstance. I was listening to Spotify, and this beautiful instrumental piece showed up, with hesitating strings and a cold voice, which was not too dissimilar to Woodkid’s On Then and Now which I had been drawn to earlier in the season.

This gradually became my favorite album of the year (other great songs are in there, such as I’m 49.) Now that the virus is crawling and the internet functions at the Terahertz speeds, we’ve gone full circle.

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Light sources around the world

Over the last two years, I had a chance to visit a few synchrotron around the world!

Here’s my fav list:

Now I need to visit:

  •  Diamond Light Source (near Oxford, UK),
  • MaxIV (Lund, Sweden) and the
  • European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France)

 

SOLEIL synchrotron (near Paris, France)

Swiss Light Source (Paul Scherrer Institute, near Zurich)

Taiwan Photon Source (Hsinchu, Taiwan)

Elettra sincotrone (Trieste, Italy) – with Luca Gregoratti

Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory (near Chicago, IL) – with Gautam Gunjala (UC Berkeley)

Advanced Light Source Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (near San Francisco, CA) – with Claudi Mazzoli (from NSLS-II, Brookhaven)

Good optics

Here are collected pictures from the vendor exhibition at the SPIE Optics+Photonics 2019 conference in San Diego, CA.
I always find these exhibitions strangely fascinating, and I wanted to capture why. Enjoy!


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