Any monkey can run an equation through a graphing calculator, call it "Icosahedron 12" and sell a "giclee image" for $300 to a gullible sophomore. But it takes actual smarts (or a serious bronze foundry) to make cool "science art."
Below are five amazing artists or groups who have produced work based on math and science. We're talking recursive tessellation and quantum superposition. The hard stuff. Keep reading to check it out and add your own.
The Institute for Figuring
The Institute is "dedicated to enhancing the public understanding of figures and figuring techniques." Aside from riveting lectures on tensegrity structures and tiling patterns (no, we're serious, tensegrity is interesting), this also means building fractal structures from business cards and crocheting hyperbolic coral reefs out of yarn. We approve.
He created the Kryptos sculpture for the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. Dedicated to cryptology, it contains a coded message that the Agency spooks have still not deciphered. Then, in Critical Assembly, he "created a tableau based on the laboratory environment for the assembly of the first atomic bomb," which contained pieces of the actual Trinity prototype. His current work, "Terrestrial Physics," includes a functional particle accelerator. Good thing we're wearing lead underwear.
Like those gicl�e images, Escher prints have graced the walls and T-shirts of engineering freshmen for decades. But, unlike Mathematica's paeans to coordinate geometry and cheap computing power, Escher actually had something to say: His papers on mathematical crystallography and plane division, among other things, secured his reputation as a mathematician, as well as an artist.
He studied physics in Berlin, Edinburgh and Vienna, and then became an artist. (His father was so proud.) And he now builds sculptures inspired by biochemistry and subatomic physics. His sculpture "Quantum Man" appears or disappears depending on your point of view, like a Schrodinger Wave collapse or the talent of your favorite TMZ celebrity.
Art of Science
Every year Princeton University mounts the Art of Science exhibition to distract people from the fact that Einstein never actually taught there. (He was at the Institute of Advanced Study, which is across the street and three blocks down.)
The images include everything from fluid-flow smiley faces to neutron stars zooming around supermassive black holes.
What's your favorite science art? Let us know.