Superposition: physicists and artists in conversation

Physics of patterns

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Lyndall brought some prototypes ideas with her - what she called 3D sketches - of clear plastic globes with diamante patterns lit by LEDs. I was really struck by how similar they looked to the photomultiplier (PMT) setups used by neutrino telescopes (Ice Cube, Antares). I really liked the different ways in which the experimental setups were echoed by the pattern of diamante and haberdashery items in the globes - and loved the idea of playing with light as it plays such a crucial role in our experiments.

When it came to my turn to talk I wanted to move away from the detectors and talk more on how we choose to represent the data we take. The individual data are quite basic but we combine and recognise patterns in the data to extract complex physics. I talked of how it is a case of distillation - from many 1000's of reading of basic energy, position and time to just a few numbers which determine the physics of the patterns seen in our detectors. From 'raw' data to reconstructing patterns to connecting the patterns into one physical meaning it all involves different representation of the data. Lyndall particularly liked a couple of ways in which I represented my own research - in rainbow spectrum of colour and a grid search in coloured dots.

Ben

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Dreaming up all manner of props....

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Our recent meeting focused on how light is generated in the detectors and how the information relating to the detection of individual particles is represented graphically. The time of detection and the particle’s speed  is shown by using the rainbow colour spectrum; the results are extremely visual, artworks in their own right. I’m keen to incorporate Ben’s optimisation plots into my work somehow, I really love the use of colour and like the detectors themselves, the repletion of the circular form. I’ve always had a wee fetish for coloured dots!

I’ve been thinking a bit more about what the resulting work might be, don’t want to get too carried away with ideas just yet though, not until we know where the installation will be. I’d like to incorporate ice and/or water somehow, maybe through either video and/or photography. I’m beginning to feel a little like a set designer on a sci-fi film, dreaming up all manner of props!

Lyndall

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