Art + Science

The Exterminating Angel and the Entrapment of Guests

James A. W. Heffernan— Fifteen months ago, the Salzburg Festival first staged an opera that has just opened at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York:  Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel. Based on Luis Buñuel’s 1962 film of that title, the opera tells the story of a lavish dinner party

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Out of the Shadows / Robert Hooke

John Gribbin— Who was the first person to realise that gravity is a universal force possessed by every object in the Universe, which attracts every other object? Isaac Newton, right? Wrong! Newton got the idea, and other insights which fed into his theory of gravity, from Robert Hooke, a seventeenth-century polymath

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The Most Important Fact

John Gribbin— The Universe began. The origin of everything we see about us – stars, planets, galaxies, people – can be traced back to a definite moment in time, 13.8 billion years ago. The ‘ultimate’ question that baffled philosophers, theologians and scientists for millennia has been answered in our lifetime.

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Introduction to the Eureka moment!

Gavin Weightman— Working backwards from the ‘eureka moment’ offers an intriguing perspective: we find the bicycle an inspiration for the aeroplane, a talking automaton suggesting the telephone, early television dependent on discoveries made with a blowpipe and the microchip manufactured with a printing technique that dates from the nineteenth century.

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Jenny Diski: On Babyface

Jenny Diski— The great advantage over real live creatures that my Three Bears had in common with Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, aside from not needing to be fed or produce droppings, was neoteny. Mickey and my ursine family looked only glancingly like a mouse or brown bears, and much more like babies.

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Before and After Apollo

Bernd Brunner— History often rewards great breakthroughs but ignores the preparatory steps that made those achievements possible. The Apollo program, for instance, has been documented in great detail and still receives ample attention, but what of the extraordinary labors that led to that summit? How was flight to the moon

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Art + Science: Jennifer Raab on Frederic Church

Jennifer Raab — Years ago, standing in front of Frederic Edwin Church’s The Heart of the Andes (1859) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I wondered, why is this painting so detailed? This was the first word that came to mind when looking at the picture. It was also the

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Art + Science: Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic motion studies

Sarah Gordon– In 1878, photographer Eadweard Muybridge stunned audiences in the United States and abroad when he quickened the shutter of his camera to freeze the motion of a trotting horse. Nine years later, Muybridge’s photographic motion studies culminated in the publication of Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive

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Art + Science: The Islands of Benoît Mandelbrot

This piece at the intersection of Art + Science is a post written by a former Yale University Press intern after she visited the 2012 exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center, The Islands of Benoît Mandelbrot: Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking.  The book that accompanied the exhibition shares its title,

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Art + Science: Ian McClure on Diego Velázquez’s “Education of the Virgin”

Art conservation offers a fascinating overlap between the worlds of art and science; conservators examine works of art using tools and methods such as microscopy, X-radiography, X-ray fluorescence, and infrared reflectography, and their insight informs decisions about how to preserve, clean, store, transport, and display the works.  Here, Ian McClure,

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