My weblog ELECTRON BLUE, which concentrated on science and mathematics, ran from 2004-2008. It is no longer being updated. My current blog, which is more art-related, is here.

Mon, 29 Aug, 2005

New Items

Last week was a busy week for me at work, where I completed a large (about 2.5 feet by 4 feet) sign to hang over the "New Items" shelves. This sign was on thin plywood. I spray-painted a blue background on it, then added all the pictorial and text elements with opaque paint markers, which are acrylic-based. Since our store decoration theme this year is "Antique Style," I can use graphics from anywhere from the late 1800's to about the 1930's. The grain of the plywood added to the "antique" look of the sign. The visitors to the New Items shelves will now encounter not only wines, sweets, sauces, and other goodies, but this sign.

I am about to complete my next "New England" picture, though this one would be more M.I.T. than Rockport ocean. I have particle collisions and trails to add in, and then you will see this new one, catalog number 925. As for previous art efforts, I presented the painted gourds (see my entry for August 15) to their rightful owner in the Starbucks she manages. She, and the coffee-sipping onlookers, were duly delighted. And as of this last week, four prints of my fantasy cities (see the Pyracantha Website's Art Gallery for views) are hanging in the Starbucks closest to me, where I also do coffee signs. This display may be nixed by the upper-level management, because of Starbucks standardization, but I hope not. Such is the artist's life.

Posted at 3:22 am | link

Sun, 28 Aug, 2005

Peace and reconstruction

I've fired my virtual artillery, shot my bullet points at the enemy 100 meters above my position, swum y-coordinate rivers under enemy vector fire, and my air force has dropped vector bombs at hostile problems. Numbers exploded into millions of fractions. The war is over for now, and I have left behind a wasteland of solved physics problems. So now I must march on.

The territory I will be encountering is familiar to me. I have already gone through this in Barron's "Physics Made Easy." But now I'm in Schaumland, and I want my physics to be less easy. Having fought the war, I must now work to reconstruct the land for peaceful purposes of agriculture and industry. That means re-learning about all those objects held or dragged by ropes, things rolling or sliding down inclined planes, pushing and pulling bales and boxes, and eventually building simple factories where I crank water out of wells and lift weights with levers and pulleys. I will re-construct civilization with high school physics problems. Mr. Newton will be my ever-present guide.

It seems as though I am just doing things over and over again, in a cycle of learning, problem-solving, forgetting, re-learning, solving the same problems over again, and then forgetting them again. How much do I need to have at hand all the time? How much physics do I need to keep in my virtual knapsack, available to me at all times, and how much can I leave in the library, to be looked up when necessary? It is dismaying to me how slowly and repetitively I progress in my physics studies. But I suppose that is how civilization is built: war and destruction, reconstruction, more war, more reconstruction, and eventually, some progress. But I'd like to get to the nineteenth century, let alone the twentieth or twenty-first, before an actual century has gone by.

Posted at 3:18 am | link

Wed, 24 Aug, 2005

Deriving the Formula

The Barron's book, attempting to do Physics the Easy Way, simply presented the formula for centripetal acceleration without giving any account of its origin. But since I have adopted, late in my life, the habit of mathematical and scientific curiosity, I unnaturally wanted to know, how did this formula come about? Now that I am working through the more mature Schaum's book, it has been revealed to me. It took me a couple of days to work through the complications of the book's explanation. Finally I feel I have understood it well enough.

Or have I? The derivation for the formula which finds the centripetal acceleration of an orbiting body, whether it's a tether ball or a moon, is not something that just springs out of observation. You can tell, if you were to spin an object on a tether, that it takes more effort to hold it back, the faster you spin it. And you can also feel the difference in your effort and the "pull" of the object if you lengthen or shorten your tether. But translating that into mathematical language is something that isn't easy to do. Someone must have done it, though, for how could these formulas otherwise exist?

The formula is based on comparing vector calculations between two equal velocities going in two subsequent directions around a circular orbit. To get the acceleration formula, the book (or physics history in general) leads you through a series of algebraic manipulations and substitutions, eventually resulting in solving for the quantity you want. It is not like spinning and measuring. It seems quite abstract and removed from the original experience.

What perplexed, and fascinated me, was that algebraic manipulations of known quantities resulted in the specification of an unknown quantity. It was not through measurement but through pure calculation. As long as the relationship between the quantities is known, or even theorized, the math will take you there. I was not able to visualize or perceive the relationships or the observed experience behind these numbers and variables. Perhaps others more talented in physics, such as that proverbial geniusboy I am always mentioning, can do this. Or perhaps such an ability is acquired; I am hoping to acquire it, then. But faced with deriving formulas, I must walk in obscurity and let the bright red book lead me.

And now I have lots of problems to solve; I am going to war. I hear the guns of August. "A cannon is fired from ground level with a muzzle velocity of 2000 ft/second, at a 40 degree angle above the horizontal….A bomber is flying horizontally at a speed of 800 ft/second and at an altitude of 1000 ft. when it drops a bomb…"
The problems, tiny battles for me to fight, remind me that physics and war have always been close companions.

Posted at 2:57 am | link

Sun, 21 Aug, 2005

RTFM: Read the futile manual

I am now loading music onto my Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra portable player, but it has taken hours of fussing and cussing to learn how to do it. I first learned how to "rip" and "burn" CD's. No doubt, "pillage" and "rape" come next. Once the hapless CD's encoded sound has been ripped and thrown into the captivity of my hard drive, then I have to turn on the software that does the transfer between my computer and the Zen Xtra player. Then I plug the USB jack from the computer into my player. Bing-a-ling! A nice sound tells me that it is connected. Now I read from the Creative Nomad manual:

5. In the Right Panel window, click the Source bar and select the destination.

But…there is no right panel. Huh? I fool around with some of the Windows "buttons" and "view" options at the top of the screen, and finally after some random clicking, the right panel appears. But there is no "Source" bar at the top of the panel, only something telling what part of my computer's files it is showing. "My Documents/My Music," for instance. OK, so I guess that is the "Source" bar. The left panel top bar says "Source," but not the right one.

6. Click the Destination Transfer button to transfer the selected tracks. The Now Transferring dialog box appears, showing the current transfer status…

Uh, there is no Destination Transfer button. Nothing at all that says that. There is a button that says "Import files" and I try that one. That sort of works. Now I have a jumble of tracks from the album I wanted to place on the player, and all the tracks are out of order. Then I realize that this whole portable MP3 player thing is oriented towards listeners whose attention span is no longer than a single three-minute song. Doesn't anyone listen to an album all the way through, with the tracks in the order the artist wanted them to be in? More grubbing around in this slick but annoying interface, and I am back looking at a list of the tracks from my album. No information about anything. Title: Unknown. Artist: Unknown. Genre: Unknown. Order of tracks: no information. Then some more cultural revelations for me. Commercial albums on CD come with information about titles, artists, genres, etc. already encoded on the album. But the type of albums I like, which are obscure, rare, and often privately produced, don't have that information. I have to type it all in myself before I transfer the album over to the player, otherwise the player can't make sense of it nor put the tracks in order. I need to read the tiny type on the CD album cover, and remember the often inane titles of the tracks long enough to type 'em into the Creative Nomad Music Source utility. Only then can I select the album and drag it into the window where the transfer will be documented. This doesn't take long. Whew! I test it out by disconnecting the player and listening to it on headphones. Finally! I can hear ambient drone! But of course I have to fool around with the player some more to get it to play more than one track in sequence, rather than either stopping with only one, or "shuffling" tracks from my albums all together in a mishmosh. I have learned how to run this player more from just trying all the options and fooling around with it, than I have from reading the fu…tile manual. I want a "Creative Nomad Concert Hall Orthodox Extra." Forget the Zen, this hasn't been one of those Zen moments.

Now back to physics. (Place earphones on head, push "Play.") "Uniform Circular Motion," the book reads. "Centripetal Acceleration. We now turn to a situation of great interest where we do not have constant acceleration. This is the case of an object moving with constant speed v around a circular path of radius r."
Well, that does sum up my experiences in physics. Maybe someday I'll be able to break away from the circle and shoot off on a new, if tangential, path.

Posted at 1:53 am | link

Wed, 17 Aug, 2005

OMG I M sooooo OLD lol

I got a portable MP3 player. After all, every good science blogger must have one. It wasn't an IPOD but its competitor, a "Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra." I was anthropologically doubtful about the juxtaposition of "Nomad" and "Zen," as far as I know there are no Zen nomads, but never mind. The 40 gigabyte gadget promised that I would be able to listen to more or less my entire music collection, or at least a good portion of it, from this one little device, which I could stash in my backpack.

The Creative Zen Nomad remained in its box for more than a month until I got the time, and the courage, to open it up. Finally, I opened it up, pried it out of its rigid plastic covering, and assembled it. The instructions said to charge the battery, so I did that. So far so good. When the little battery symbol said it was charged up, I disconnected it, and got distracted so the Zen Nomad was left to languish for another week or two.

Tonight I recharged it and reconnected it. Stuffed the CD with the necessary software into my laptop (Zen nomads all carry laptops), and waited for the chance to download or transfer oodles of my music to this doohickey which is no bigger than a block of swiss cheese. The CD said I must go to the PDF file which would contain the instruction manual. I found this and looked for the instructions to transfer music, but there was nothing there. I could only assume that the writers of this manual, more than a hundred screenfuls long, already figured that the consumer knew how to transfer music from a computer to the portable player. Well, they're wrong.

The small paper guide that came with the player also contains cryptic instructions on how to transfer music to the player. It says:

"Go to Start> Programs/All Programs>Creative>Creative MediaSource>Creative MediaSource Organizer>. Click the Show/Hide Right Panel button. In the Sources window, select the PC Music Library as your source. In the Content window, select the tracks to transfer.…In order to see your songs listed in the Content window, use the Media Sniffer.…"

I have not found the Media Sniffer yet. Maybe it's supposed to find me. Should I wear perfume? And my music doesn't consist of "songs." My music is not lots of short tracks a few minutes long. It is made of movements and extended pieces which can go as long as an astonishing, attention-grinding ten to twenty minutes, if not longer! OMG! Why so long!? It might not fit in the "Playlist!"

I still haven't loaded a single piece of music onto the player. But classical music isn't absent from the Nomad Zen world. The machine came already loaded with lots of little excerpts from well-known classical pieces, none longer than a few minutes. It also promised me, in the "audio tour," that it had a marvelous digital automatic editing device, called the EAX Experience, that erased all dynamic (volume) differences between musical passages so that the loud parts of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony wouldn't wake the neighbors! (This last bit was a direct quote.) But if you're listening on headphones, why would anything you listened to on this machine wake the neighbors? What would Beethoven think about someone damping down his fortissimo just for the sake of convenience? (Not to mention what he might think about this listening device altogether, even if he couldn't hear it!)

Struggling with the Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra, I feel my age creeping up on me. I look around at work, or in the coffee house, and see a world in which I hardly fit, where everyone is talking into a cellphone at all times, even when buying at the register in the store, or at the post office, or for Ghod's sake, in the bathroom, where you can hear them jabbering loudly as you wait outside the door. My young co-workers in their twenties are revved to the speed of videogames and talk in superfast sound-bites about movies, TV, and pop music bands I've never seen or heard of. Not only do they text-message constantly, through their cellphones, but they actually TALK text-message acronyms and slang. (I am constantly saying "Huh?") They can power their way through gadgets like this Creative Nomad thing without hesitation. I'm so un-wired. Like, when did I miss the future?

I'll eventually get my Creative Zen Nomad up and running. But I won't load it with the hyperfast, Ritalin-laced soundbytes of our modern age. I will load music filled with the pompous swagger and bathos of nineteenth-century Europe, or the angst or rugged optimism of the twentieth-century. And I will also fill those gigabytes with vast spacescapes of electronic desert drones, or oceans of stars, or tribal ambience from other planets. In that little silver box, I will create my own cosmic cloister, slow vistas of clouds and light, where no cellphone chatters and no e-mail intrudes.

Posted at 3:45 am | link

Mon, 15 Aug, 2005

Gourd news

I have been indulging in some "craft painting," that is, hobby-ish painting that is not part of my main output, is not done for money, and does not pass the Seriousness Test. I have been painting on gourds. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine, who manages one of the Starbucks I frequent, gave me two gourds from her garden, all dried up and ready to use as craft items. The fruits sat in my studio for years until I figured out what to paint on them. I have plenty of "craft paint," acrylics made for hobbyists in many pre-mixed colors. So when I had enough of the right colors to use, I finally decided to paint the gourds. I rarely paint on a 3-D item; once or twice I have decorated boxes or glassware. But this time I did it devotedly. I sealed the porous gourds with acrylic sealer, and painted a base coat in an appropriate color. Then I added the decoration.

I had intended to paint the smaller gourd in leaf-shaped areas of blue, but when I started, I realized that these areas lent themselves perfectly to "paisley" designs. I copied paisley designs from Persia and India from my many reference books and did them all in different shades of blue. Then I added accents of red, yellow, and white to the patterns, and finished it off with a bit of metallic blue paint. Here is one view of the Blue Paisley Gourd, which is about 9 inches long.

And here is another.

Searching on the Web, I found to my astonishment that there is a whole industry of people who do artistic things with gourds, and that there are even supply houses where you can buy gourds and all sorts of supplies to work with them. There are annual gourd shows all around the USA. And some artists make really beautiful things with them, such as Gita Landwehr who also paints pictures of koi fish and Tibetan mandalas. See, you can find nice things on the wicked Internet if you look for them. The virtual world isn't all bad.

The other gourd my friend gave me was one of the funny-shaped ones known, for obvious reasons when you see it, as a "duck head gourd." I've seen these carved into all sorts of fowl shapes. But I decided to do something different, so I present here, the "Universe Gourd." It has stars, nebulae, galaxies, and even a comet. The Universe is about 10 inches long.

These are not for sale. I will be giving them back to the friend who gave them to me, and they will be treasured keepsakes in her family.

I was tempted to call the "Universe Gourd" "Stephen Jay Gourd," after the late, well-known biologist and writer but thought better of it. But I definitely had a gourd time making these, and as you see the fruits of my labor I hope you have a gourd day.

Posted at 2:15 am | link

Sat, 13 Aug, 2005

Calling Friendly Scientists

I wish I had more Friendly Scientists in my world. At this moment I only have two or three people who I know will respond if I send them an e-mail. However, they may not always reply, or might reply two weeks or a month later, or might reply in cryptic, clever remarks that leave me bewildered. Among my Friendly Scientists are two physicists, one laser micro-engineer, one retired professor of physics and chemistry, two or three astrophysicists, and one pathologist (the only biologist among the lot). I also have two Friendly Mathematicians whose help is almost always available. I have more computer consultants than I could possibly count, who have helped me at times from their own science backgrounds. Their names are all withheld to protect their identities and reputations.

Contact with any one of these people is irregular and rare. I almost never see these people face to face; some I have never met, only e-mailed. I have been told for so long that I am a pest, that I take up people's precious time and "bother" them with trivial questions and inane comments, that I crave too much attention; so I hesitate to make contact unless I am really stuck on some problem or concept. But what I would like, if I had the social skills to maintain it, would be a regular contact (once or twice a month) with a Friendly Physicist, to discuss what I am currently working on, what my concerns are, how much progress I am making, and where I am going next.

Now the obvious answer is, why don't I just take a course in physics at my local community college (which in my case is not so local and needs a long fight through heavy traffic to get there) and ask the professor those things. Well, other than the time and expense involved, I have discussed earlier how I have had so many bad experiences in class that I just don't want to bring back those awful memories of being left further and further behind, failing exams, and being humiliated. I am happy to do the work myself out of books. I don't need a lot of help, either. What I need is more like "moral support," or an encouraging word from some Real Live Physicist somewhere, who could remember that I am doing this work. But that gets back to the "why should you bother someone when they are so busy doing more important work?" thing.

These days I am really making progress. Last August I complained that I had studied no physics. I was wasting my time attempting to do logarithms with archaic methods of tables, interpolation, and a low-accuracy slide rule. This August I am now tracking the trajectories of objects launched at an angle, and have done some basic calculus. I hardly flinch at equations about initial velocity x sine or cosine of the initial angle, or about the parabolic trajectory of the object, when a year ago my eyes would have glazed over in a combination of bewilderment and terror. I don't know whether I will remember these trajectory equations in a week or two, but by the time I have been through them three times, I will be ready to launch my artillery shells against the enemy, whoever the enemy is.

I read a lot of science blogs, especially those about physics. My favorite these days is the group blog, Cosmic Variance. This is written by a constellation of five physicists, all of them young and attractive, and there are even two women among them! It is relentlessly cheerful, even when they talk about string theory. They make the scientist's life sound like that of a movie star or jet-setting celebrity, dashing off to China or Aspen or Geneva (don't any of them go to Parsippany, New Jersey or Neosho, Missouri?) and they never, ever talk about anything tedious or depressing. I often think about contacting one or two of them by e-mail and trying to add them to my collection of Friendly Scientists, but then I stop myself. They don't need you, I remind myself. Don't make them waste time on your trivial concerns. They are busy calculating the great questions of the Universe, not the trajectory of some hypothetical football. So the blog-physicists remain uncontacted. But someday, perhaps soon, I will give in to my craving, and some poor soul of a physicist whose e-mail is available on a Website will be hit by the Electron Blue beam.

Posted at 2:48 am | link

Thu, 11 Aug, 2005

A Graph is not a Picture

I am finally learning something in basic physics which I have wanted to know for some time, namely how to track the movement of a projectile launched above the earth's surface at an angle. I have worked through, more than once, trajectories of things projected directly upwards, and things moving horizontally. But the angles in between are where arrows, cannonballs, artillery shells, and home run balls hit by Red Sox sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz travel. The mathematics of their paths, at least in the abstract without taking air resistance into account, are dictated by trigonometry, and are much more exactly described by calculus. Of course in baseball, air resistance is an essential part of how the ball travels, especially in seaside Boston. This will be covered in a later chapter, when I get further into my reading of THE PHYSICS OF BASEBALL by physicist and baseball-lover Robert K. Adair. His author photograph shows him wearing a Boston Red Sox hat, so assuming him to be a Boston fan, I respect him greatly. I am not sure he is still alive, but I do hope he lived to see the Great Victory of 2004.

So I had to learn trigonometry before I could begin to fathom those parabolic trajectories of things thrown or propelled into the air. The graphs in Schaum's are as helpful as they can be, but I have added all sorts of notes in different colors, hoping that they will make sense to me the next time I go through this material. The problem for me is that these calculations, even if they disregard air resistance, cover at least two sets of variables: velocity and displacement. Each of these is a vector quantity and the graphs for them look alike. The graphs are so alike that at first I didn't know which one went with which. The graph for displacement looked deceptively like a picture of the object's trajectory over time. So did the graph for velocity vectors. Both of these graphs are indeed related to what the path of the object looks like when it's traveling, but they are not actually pictures of the object in motion.

Let us turn to volcanology, my first love in science. Volcanoes of a somewhat more peaceful sort emit what are called "Strombolian" bursts of fiery material, named after the famous Mediterranean volcano Stromboli.

This photograph shows a volcanic vent (not Stromboli, though) spewing forth such a burst. The time exposure needed to take the photo shows the complete trajectories of volcanic bombs, as they rise and fall. They trace perfect parabolas. These are not graphs, though they can easily be mathematically described. The photo, and other artistic representations of projectile paths, are pictures. Yet they, too, convey information about motion, more vividly than an x/y graph. As a visual artist I will always feel the tension between mathematical graphs and pictured illustrations.

Posted at 3:13 am | link

Wed, 10 Aug, 2005

Imperial Moth

The Electron has recently received an upgrade: it can now have illustrations right in the body of the text, rather than as links you have to click on. The upgrade is not to the software, which has always had the capability, but to the web-knowledge of the writer, who isn't so capable.

Henceforth I can show you all sorts of things, whether it is related to physics, or art, or anything I find interesting. My first illustration will be of a creature which came to my sliding screen door, attracted by the light of my studio. It clung to the screen all night and didn't mind when I photographed it with a flash.

An online search on insect and moth identification (the Web at its best) identified this creature as an Imperial Moth, Latin name Eacles imperialis. This moth appears in summer and can be seen in urban areas flittering around street lights. It's quite big; this specimen has about a 4 inch (about 9 cm) wingspan.

I love the idea of an "imperial" moth. It conjures up visions of faerie rulers dressed in robes of maroon and gold brocade. I've always been fond of moths because they, like me, do their work at night. When I went to my terrace in the day, it was gone.

Posted at 2:30 am | link

Tue, 09 Aug, 2005

Art is not physics

I've just begun another geometric painting, the second in my series for my upcoming show in November. It will be 20 inches square, and its composition is made from overlapping and underlapping squares or squarish rectangles in black, grey-blue, and one bright red square. There will be diagonal accents in brighter blue. Unlike my ocean painting, all the major lines in this painting will be straight. This means that I can use masking tape to make my edges nice and sharp. The title of this painting will be "Universe Detector." This, and the composition in general, is inspired by the particle detectors used at the great accelerators. Some physicists dare to say that other universes, or at least dimensions, might be discovered in such detectors as particles "disappear" after high-energy collisions.

But this is not a diagram of a particle detector, nor is it a direct depiction of a particle detector. I don't think they're square, but cylindrical. In fact, this picture follows the rather meretricious modern-artistic trend of making artworks on themes of modern physics, when the artist doesn't really know anything about modern physics other than what can be read in popular books on the subject.

I know a lot of artists, including ones who do art with "scientific" themes, and I sometimes ask them, how come you do art about science rather than doing science itself? And I often get the answer from the artist: Because I couldn't do the math. After all, that's my story, too, right? At least until five years ago. That's when I set out to prove, using my own experience, that a math-impaired artist could learn real i.e. mathematically based physics, rather than read equation-free books about it and do pretty science-inspired pictures.

Art is not physics. Physics is more difficult than art. The great asymmetry of the two fields proves it: many, many physicists can perform competently as musicians or artists, but few professional artists, if any, could do physics on the level of their corresponding physicist. After five years, I'm still only at a high school level, having had to educate myself in all the math that I failed to learn in my youth. I would like to be as good a physicist as Richard Feynman was as a bongo player—or an artist, because he could draw surprisingly well. But anyone, even a kid, can enjoy doing art or music. This is not true for mathematics and physics except for those annoying little geniusboys you read about in magazines.

So here I am then, doing what all the other well-intentioned artists who love science do: making a painting with a "scientific" inspiration and theme, which neither illuminates or conveys real science nor adds to the body of real scientific knowledge. I feel a kind of frustration about this, knowing that this is all I will ever get to do, that no matter how long I study or work on my physics, I will never actually contribute to the enterprise of science, not even an electron's worth. If I somehow decided to change careers and go into physics, I would have to be much younger, stronger, tougher, and more talented. And if I did, I would be so involved in its all-consuming work that I would no longer have the time to do art. This is a trade-off I am not willing to make. Therefore, as an artist on the fringe of science, everything I do is a symbol, not a reality.

Posted at 3:06 am | link

Sun, 07 Aug, 2005

Bucky Blooms Again

It's been fairly torrid these last couple of weeks, with some passages of high humidity. But tonight, though heat lightning from distant storms flickered at the southern horizon, hardly a drop of rain fell here. It's good weather for cacti and succulents. My plants are out on the terrace, where they get plenty of sun and not much water other than what I provide for them. And this week, just about a year after it first started blooming, "Bucky," my geodesic dome cactus, has bloomed again.

I noticed the buds about a day before the bloom began. When it comes time to bloom, this cactus moves incredibly fast. The buds shoot from the central fuzzy crown at the top in only a day or so. By evening, the buds began to open. As the night progressed, the buds the buds opened fully. I knew from its previous blooming that these flowers would only be open for one night, and by morning they were done. There will be another flower in a few weeks.

The bright whiteness of the flowers is common among night-blooming plants, since it catches any light no matter how dim and thus can attract pollinating moths and other night-flyers. But I wonder what the evolutionary strategy is, when a plant only opens its blooms for two nights a year. You would think it is too easy to miss. I still don't know what species this cactus is. Perhaps in the wild (if this plant still exists in the wild) it blooms more frequently.

There has been minor disruption and mess in my studio while I take care of maintenance and shuffling jobs around. I am still reviewing the physics I have learned, with the Schaum's book. Currently I'm re-doing vectors, and will finally learn about projectile motion at an angle. The cycle of learning, forgetting, review, re-learning, re-forgetting, and review seems endless, and dampens my enthusiasm, even if no rain falls.

Posted at 2:39 am | link

Wed, 03 Aug, 2005

I finished the ocean

I am back at my studio after a not-very-restful, but friend-filled weekend. The first thing I did was paint the rest of picture catalog number 924, now known as "The Orange Sail." This is now done. I finished the ocean early on the third. Now this language suggests that, like the God of the Bible's Genesis, I finished the ocean on the third day, not of August, but of Creation. (Disclaimer to readers: I am not a "creationist" nor do I believe literally in any of the stories of the Bible.) But as I wrote in a previous entry, I have actually finished a painting of a stylized, abstract ocean scene, in acrylic on illustration board, 19 inches vertical, 22 inches horizontal.

This picture has the distinction in my output of being the first picture I ever did the sketch for using a computer. The sketch for this was actually done back in 1992 when I got my first computer. I used CorelDraw 2 to do it, hoping to paint it as a larger canvas back then, but I never got around to it. (I am now using CorelDraw 12.) Some of my hesitation was due to technical problems such as how to draw long sweeping curves cleanly. I have a long "ship's curve," made out of bending layers of plastic, to do that now. So finally, thirteen years later, I've done the work. I was quite surprised how my painted final work differed from what I thought it was going to look like from the computer graphic.

Here is the computer sketch I did for "The Orange Sail" back in 1992.

And here is the finished piece, "The Orange Sail."

This is the first of what I am calling my "New England Paintings," which I am hoping to exhibit in my home town this fall. "Orange Sail" is inspired by the ocean scenes of my Massachusetts youth. This summer, it's as close to the sea as I'm going to get.

The next painting in the series won't be oceanic and New England-regional at all. It is from my present, not my youth or 1992. It will be an image inspired by the particle detectors at the great accelerators such as CERN or Fermilab.

Meanwhile, I am getting all the problems in classical acceleration right, which means that it's finally time to move on to reviewing something else in my bright red Schaum's book.

Posted at 3:18 am | link

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Cosmic Variance
Life as a Physicist
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Bad Astronomy
Jennifer Saylor
Thus Spake Zuska

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