Yesterday we learned a team of scientists announced an “unprecedented discovery” of phenomena light-years away: three more planets circling around another Sun have been spotted. Apparently this is the first time images of several planets around a star outside our solar system have been captured.
Meanwhile Hubble keeps peering deeper into space, sending back more and more breathtaking macroscopic images. (I still wonder, “where did all that Space come from, for the whole universe to dance in?)Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, and not wishing to go unnoticed, the microscopic world reveals itself, making headline news as well.
This week Santiago Costantino, a physicist at University of Montreal recreated Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” at 200 microns, about the width of two human hairs.
He arranged the image ‘pixel by pixel’ and aimed a laser through a microscopic lens to arrange molecules in the liquid to form the famous image. Costantino explained the aim of this laser technique is to help medical researchers:
“the laser can create intricate protein patterns in the lab that researchers can use to test how nerve cells might be re-grown - the first step toward the long-term goal of repairing spinal cord injuries and other nerve damage”.
This same week we learned in Japan the world’s smallest engagement ring has been created: a diamond 5 billionths of a carat, 300 nanometres thick and 5 micrometres across.
It was made by carving out a circular structure in an artificially- made diamond. It will be used to access single photons, the basis for developing quantum computers. The ring can only be seen with a microscope. (No kidding!) And I thought my father was a genius, when he put 52 facets on a 0.20 point diamond.
Many years ago, on one of our journeys to Mexico, we met a local artist on the beach. His specialty was to carve your name on a grain of rice, which he’d put on a string and you could wear around your neck. He did this without glasses or magnification instruments. This is quite commonly seen today, but in those days it seemed absolutely amazing.
Back in the 1960s, the first images became available to the public of minerals or crystals magnified by an electron microscope. These were vistas never before seen and which carried the viewer into another realm. I used to call them, and still do, images of ‘never-ever land’.
Sometimes the resemblance between the multi-coloured splendour and sparkle of images from space (such as the extraordinary nebulae captured by Hubble we see today), and those from the microscopic world are so similar, it is uncanny, revealing the micro and the macro world are one.
However, what is interesting is that before I personally ever witnessed such images, I was already depicting imagery of a micro/macro nature, but born from intuition and experimentation. (See images of one painting above.) Evidence that the creative mind is a vehicle of the zeitgeist and can function as a harbinger of the future.
Keep on discovering! Henri