Category Archives: art & science

Hook theory

I want to talk today about Hooktheory, a website/ebook that two of my colleagues at CXRO Chris and Ryan have founded and are currently developing.

They gave me the chance to visit the Berkeley Skydeck, a startup incubator where they share space with other innovative companies on the top floor of the Chase building, in Berkeley– a great view !

Berkeley Skydeck West

West view from the Berkeley Skydeck– located on the top floor of the Chase Building in Berkeley

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Bruce Alberts’s drawing

Yesterday, I went to a talk given at LBNL by Bruce Alberts on “Science and World’s Future“.

It was an interesting retrospective of the work done by Bruce Alberts all along his career, focused on public outreach (for those who do not know, he was the Editor-in-Chief of Science journal, the president of the US National Academy of Science for 12 years and the author of the bible in Molecular Cell Biology).

He explained his efforts in introducing “critical thinking” education in US schools, and gave some examples which I found very interesting, since I interested in science public outreach myself
–Eh, you know what ? I’m a tour guide for LBNL now !

Bruce Alberts's drawing

Bruce Alberts’s drawing

He was a obviously a good candidate for a drawing ! He is not a Nobel prize himself, but he was definitely a Nobel prize maker…
I’ve asked him to draw me a torch, since he ended his talk with a quote of Louis Pasteur :

Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.

It’s fun the he also quotes Pasteur, like Richard Hamming who quoted the pseudo-Randian :

Chance favors only the prepared mind.

Now that in Berkeley, I really need to get a drawing from George Smoot (building 50-5007, he was in the thesis committee of a friend of mine), Saul Perlmutter (building 50-5038; his daughter is the friend a of colleague;-) , the previous director of the lab and former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the current director of the lab Paul Alivisatos (a Nobel-Prize-to-be ?), and maybe catch-up with Charles Townes, who’s old an often seen at the church in Berkeley, who was the first person I ever asked to draw me something and the only person who ever refused….


FDTD Simulations of interesting optical phenomena

I’ve made a series of FDTD simulations of optical phenomena using Meep.

I did these this during my thesis, to better understand some not-so-intuitive interaction of light and matter.

There are more to come later !


Serge Haroche won the Nobel Prize !

+1 in my Nobel Prize Drawings Collection !

Serge Haroche's – met in Paris, 2010

The two cultures

I OCRed the manuscript of the famous “The Two Cultures”  lecture by R.C. Snow.
You can find an html version, or read the original version in a poorly-scanned pdf.

I like this text, because it gives an overview of the consequences of the forced choice you have to make, at some point, between hard (scientific) and soft (humanities) knowledge.
I don’t want to choose. I guess I’m a bit oldschool.

I think that one possible definition of our modern culture is that it is one in which nine-tenths of our intellectuals can’t read any poetry.  – Randall Jarrell

Here’s an extract of “The two cultures” :

The non-scientists have a rooted impression that the scientists are shallowly optimistic, unaware of man’s condition. On the other hand, the scientists believe that the literary intellectuals are totally lacking in foresight, peculiarly unconcerned with their brother men, in a deep sense anti-intellectual, anxious to restrict both art and thought to the existential moment. And so on.

Anyone with a mild talent for invective could produce plenty of this kind of subterranean back-chat. On each side there is some of it which is not entirely baseless. It is all destructive. Much of it rests on misinterpretations which are dangerous. I should like to deal with two of the most profound of these now, one on each side.

umop apisdn

umop apisdn
… is upside down, upside down !

I’ve just discovered a wonderful video on the internet.
It has been shot by a guy named Markus Kayser, who made a 3D printer that uses Fresnel lenses to focus sunlight in order to melt sand (hence the given name ‘solar sinter’). The focal spot is swept over a layer sand, which locally turn into a sort of glass. Layer by layer, this makes crazy stuffs!
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The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

… is a serious issue. That’s what Edward. R. Tufte says in is book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

Cover of Tufte's book. The image is an old French train schedule considered by Tufte has one of the best information visualization ever.

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L’art et la science (VI) – La science et la culture

VI. La science et la culture
La science a envahi le quotidien au travers de son prolongement technique. En effet, la culture a souvent été influencée par la technologie, que ce soit au niveau des moyens de communication (radio, télévision, internet), des loisirs (jeux-vidéos, informatique) ou de la projection dans le futur qu’incarne la science-fiction.
Certains philosophes comme Bernard Stiegler, ou des experts en génétique comme Axel Kahn nous ont fait nous poser des questions nouvelles relatives à l’avancée de sciences.

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L’art et la science (V) – La beauté de la science

V. La beauté de la science
La science produit beaucoup d’images, même si elles ne présentent pas toutes d’intérêt esthétique. Faisons un tour rapide des disciplines scientifiques qui peuvent être intéressantes.

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L’art et la science (IV) – Les matériaux

IV. Les matériaux
Parfois, la science veut étendre, imiter supplanter ce qui existe à l’état naturel. C’est ici qu’intervient la chimie. Bien que souvent associée aux explosions et aux procédés industriels, la chimie recèle de petites curiosités qui valent le détour. Il est souvent amusant de voir les couleurs bizarres des solutions, ou les comportements étranges de certains solides.

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