Superposition: physicists and artists in conversation


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I have been lucky enough play my part in the construction of a cutting edge particle detector and I feel equally privileged to have played my part in the construction of the Covariance installation.

The other weekend I went to visit Lyndall in Ely to play my part in constructing on of the hundreds of elements involved. While there I was surprised to see how much in common the construction of the installation had with that of a particle detector. After some thought though the parallels made perfect sense because they are a very real reflection of the core inspiration behind the piece.


I tried my hand at constructing one of the hundreds of uniquely and intricately patterned  Perspex discs that comprise the main installation. I found the accuracy with which the diamantes must be placed quite tricky and instead realised my calling lie in preparing the brass rods for the glass beads to sit upon.

The micro industrial scale process Lyndall and her team of assistants are employing to create Covariance mimic that of my colleagues and myself when constructing the ND280 near detector for the T2K experiment. Thousands of individual elements are painstakingly hand assembled, over seen by an expert. Jigs and standardised methods ensure accuracy in the alignment of each piece.

Soon will come the stage when all on the intermediary elements will be packaged and shipped to site for installation. The ND280 particle detector comprised of elements constructed by groups all around the globe and came together in the village of Tokai-mura in Eastern Japan. The discs for Covariance are travelling in boxes from Lyndalls home in Ely to Kings Cross, while the support structure and lighting will arrive on site direct from engineers. It will be the coming together of all elements that will make Covariance complete much that same as it takes international elements to complete a particle detector.

I am extremely excited about Monday as I will be continuing this journey to completion when the main support structure arrives on site at the London Canal Museum. This is the most exciting part as the individual parts start to form the whole. It will take less time than installing a particle detector but the principle is the same – elements are passed down a hole and assembled underground into a complete piece.

It is happening!

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