Mark’s interest in creating a dynamic 3D object based on the tetrahedral collapse model of early structure formation in the universe has lead to a design challenge: what kind of hinge or connection would be mechanically practical, and how does that physical mechanism relate to the concept of changes in density of the dark-matter sheet? Mark has designed a first draft of a ball joint connection that he’ll be able to 3D print at Durham University. The advantage of rapid prototyping and manufacturing these objects would be to create an expansive three dimensional matrix of twisting polyhedra. It can serve to demonstrate three dimensional folding of space as well as offer a point of entry for viewers to immerse themselves in a physical, albeit abstract, model of the early universe. We will share our progress on this as we make it!
On that note, I’m hitting the brakes! Back up. There is so much for me to dig into in just the first paragraphs of just ONE of Mark’s papers. I’ll be creating series from points of inspirations like the following. Here in front of me is “Tessellating the cosmological dark-matter sheet: origami creases in the universe and ways to find them” An excerpt reads “As particles move around in three-dimensional space, they occupy worldlines in four-dimensional space-time.” I can only think of Billy and the Tralfamadorians from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. I imagine each and every particle from the dawn of creation existing as an eternal smear through space-time, neither becoming or ceasing to exist, a meaningful visualization for contemplating quantum entanglement. The Tralfamadorians are aliens that exist outside of time and perceive time-based creatures, and the universe itself, as sort of a film strip, with moments stacked one on top of another continuously, accessible as a whole or one moment "at a time"... The paper continues, “It is also useful to think of particle trajectories in yet another, six-dimensional ‘phase space’ of position and velocity. Each particle in the universe can be plotted in this 6D phase space, three of the dimensions given by its spatial position [x, y and z axis from an origin], and three by its velocity [a vector quantity, vectors requiring a magnitude and direction to define them].” What would a 6-dimension-perceiving Vonnegut alien see? We will never know.
In fact, attempting to visualize dimensions higher than three or four is often counterproductive. After all, mathematics is conceptual, abstract, and removed from the physical reality on which we we base our concept of sight and materiality. So I have taken to presenting direct translations of mathematical graphs as art for contemplation, similar to the way an artist might present an idyllic landscape or portrait. There is an inherent beauty that I see, maybe its that I conceptualize it more than see it, in systems, graphs, and plots, like the phase portrait below.
What happens when a new system of presenting information is introduced into art-making? All artists do it, and I think the systems we create make up a large part of our style and vision. Some distill an essential quality from observing the natural world and create a visual language that way. Some borrow from art history and each other, some from technologies like microscopes or telescopes, extensions of the visual system, some from abstract emotional systems. I am interested in what happens when the mathematical and scientific systems are used to create art. Works that still reflect some essential quality of the natural world, or make visible an otherwise invisible connection.
I’ll be collecting some data from Mark to use as sort of a still-life of information to “draw from,” to create works that weave art and science, with an appreciation for mathematics, graphs, and plots.
I have been thinking about and have started to design 3D-printed pieces to represent galaxy spins; my department does have a 3D printer that I could use for that purpose. The idea got its root from "jitterbugs," mentioned in previous blog entries. Lizzy and I are trying to think of how to make something that either seems to fold naturally, as jitterbugs seem to, or that illustrate how spins of galaxies in a network affect each other.
The simplest such 3D network would be a set of galaxies arranged in a tetrahedron; it appears below, with a ball joint at each vertex to attach a galaxy.
The galaxies would attach to each ball, and look something like this (scale blown up; the inside of the sphere below is the same size as the balls on each vertex above):
This week, also I am helping out at a "Celebrate Science" event here in Durham, UK, where I will bring some origami designs; I call the activity "fold your own galaxy". That's about all for now; hopefully next week I'll be able to report on the 3D printing ... it will probably require some tweaking.
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Lizzy Storm is an artist and owner of Lizzy Storm Designs based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mark Neyrinck is an award-winning astrophysicist and cosmologist, and a postdoctoral researcher at Durham University, United Kingdom.