Superposition: physicists and artists in conversation

Drift dark matter detectors

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I thought that a trip to the science museum might help show up some historical imagery of the scientific process that I might be able to use to explain aspects of particle physics. To my disappointment there was very little to do with particle physics in the science museum - they have far more at the Museum Of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester! We did lay eyes on one of the Drift dark matter detectors which had been moved from its original home in the Boulby salt mines in Yorkshire. The historical 18th C gallery really caught Lyndalls attention - I too have always loved the handcraft orreries and lab equipment. In the surroundings of brass and hand blown glass we sat and I got my laptop out to show Lyndall some more particle detectors. We went into detail about the technologies involved in each detector and how they 'saw' particles. Lyndall showed me pictures of scintillating fibres and I talked about how certain materials produced wither light (scintillation) or electric charge (ionisation) to tell us of the presence of particles.

Ben

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Brass, glass and mahogany

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We talked more about contemporary particle physics, detector design and the various methods used to ‘see’ particles – scintillation, ionisation, Cherenkov radiation and magnetic fields. I had done a wee bit of homework before our meeting and found images of these amazing scintillating fibres, which sit nicely with the photos Ben posted for me of wavelength shifting fibres – oh to play with some of these!

Copyright: Luminex® fabrics.

Credit: Fermilab. Source.

Lyndall

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Gold diamante encrusted eggs

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To the OXO tower I trekked and out the back found an amazing exhibition space, The Bargehouse, which I must have passed by 100 times without knowing it existed - what a stunning building. Lyndall's work stood in an alcove on the second floor; stacks of egg boxes with gold diamante encrusted eggs. I was unsure how to approach the piece at first as it looked juxtapositioned in that industrial space, but as Lyndall explained the piece, its meaning and her process behind creating it I was drawn in. I got to see a finished piece and through this understand the process through which Lyndall works, the information she extracts and the ways in which that information is portrayed in her pieces.

I also really enjoyed exploring the Bargehouse with her - we sneaked a peak at the upper floor - derelict and eerie. I love exploring new spaces and I feel Lyndall shared the same interest.

Credit: Photography Richard Davies

Ben

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The Bargehouse

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I thought it would be good to show Ben some of my site specific work in situ, so am meeting him on Saturday at the Bargehouse in London. It’s an amazing space, a ‘derelict’ warehouse that I’m sure he’ll like, plus it will give him an idea of how I work in non-gallery spaces. Seeing aesthetically beautiful work in less than glamorous surroundings has always captured my attention and imagination.

Lyndall

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Giant machines

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In the past I have worked with designers and illustrators and was struck by how different the two professions were, talking as a naive scientist, but both were adamant they were not artists. So what would an artist be like? As soon as I met Lyndall I knew it would be fun working with her. We immediately started chatting, about what I thought was the most visually impacting area of my research - the detectors. Giant machines designed to image the smallest things in Nature. I knew that Super-Kamiokande would wow, as it does everyone who sees it. Lyndall had a real hunger for understanding every aspect of not only Super-K but all other detector technologies - this was my first homework.

Ben

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