Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Galaxies Forming Along Filaments, Like Droplets Along the Strands of a Spider's Web

I swear I didn't make this up, and it's really a room-size set of connecting elastic rope segments by Tomas Saraceno at Tanya Bonakdar (way West 21st St), which are honestly meant to be imaginings of the early universe.
Investigating how the gossamer thin filaments of these intricate webs are able to suspend life by way of intricate geometry, Saraceno suggests at a conceptual architectural proposal that relies on this most delicate and prehistoric system of life to take us into our future. Of particular interest is the application of this phenomenon throughout the history of time. A keystone to Saraceno’s fascination with these web constructions was the recent discovery that suggests the early universe was a sponge-like form, with galaxies forming along filaments, like droplets on a spider's web.
I have to admit that it does a pretty good job evoking the images coming from dark matter simulations, where dark matter clumps up into filaments that sketch out a "spongy" structure.  What I find neat is that these filaments, seen in galaxy surveys, are thought to reflect inhomogeneities from the very early universe, propagated over billions of years.

I also wonder how the sponge soaked up all the perfect fluid we've been studying these last few years.  Ironically, one of these "sponge" images was also used in this 2005 article on RHIC

But speaking of art, I also recently managed to catch a half an hour of the Poussin exhibit at the Met.  Awesome.  Poussin was a famously astute observer of nature, which clearly dominates these enormous tableaux.  But beyond the obvious emphasis on the detailed imaginings of forests and mountains and lakes, out of which manmade cities seem to sprout, and little people frolic in the margins, he was apparently a real stickler for optics, as evinced by the precise rendering of the reflections in the water.  

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