From Chandra: an intergalactic "weather map"

From the Chandra Blog, we learn today this image is  "an intergalactic 'weather map' around the elliptical galaxy NGC 5813, the dominant central galaxy in a galaxy group located about 105 million light years away from Earth.

"Just like a weather map for a local forecast on Earth, the colored circle depicts variations in temperature across a region. This particular map presents the range of temperature in a region of space as observed by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, with the hotter temperatures shown in red and decreasingly cooler temperatures shown in orange, yellow, green, and blue. The numbers displayed when rolling your mouse over the image give the gas temperature in millions of degrees"Explore more at the Chandra blog.

You're also invited to visit COLORING SPACE, a collaboration with Chandra X-Ray - a selection of images from my ORGANIVERSE Starry Night series of paintings in pointillism, juxtaposed with images from space.


Feature story in newspaper about Coloring Space exhibit

From the Times Colonist newspaper: Stars Align for Painter's Vision - "Back in 1972, artist Henri van Bentum took a year to painstakingly fill in 100 little circles with thousands of coloured dots. He called his collection of pointillist paintings Organiverse. And a new version called "Starry Night" just happens to resemble recent and highly sophisticated images of the universe taken by NASA's X-ray telescope at Harvard."
Click here to read the full article in the "Times Colonist" newspaper, Victoria

#26 of 100 mandalas from the "Starry Night" edition of Organiverse, Henri van Bentum


Two ORGANIVERSE videos can be viewed at Vimeo

You're invited to watch the two videos based on both the Original and Starry Night versions of ORGANIVERSE on our Vimeo page.


ORGANIVERSE by Henri van Bentum "Starry Night" edition - sphere # 26 out of a series of #100 spheres

ORGANIVERSE - this is just one sphere in the series of one hundred, Starry Night edition.  Pointillism, 8 1/2 cm. in diameter (3.3"). To watch a video of the Original (and Starry Night) set, come and visit our Vimeo page.

Explore the new ORGANIVERSE ROTATION Handset, available for purchase, with holder made from recovered Westcoast wood including Garry Oak. A project in collaboration with Brian W. Johnson.  For contact information please visit my website, and click on "Biography".


COLORING SPACE - special feature at Chandra X-Ray Center, a collaboration with "Organiverse" by Henri van Bentum

A week ago I made my 81st orbit.  Speaking of “orbit”, it was a gratifying experience to see on Wednesday the Chandra X-Ray Center (NASA)
launched a special feature on its website, a fusion of art and science called “COLORING SPACE” with work from my "Organiverse" Starry Night edition (original paintings are just 8 1/2 cm. in diameter (3.3").  Micro and macro cosmos.

What is Chandra? 'The Chandra X-Ray telescope is an orbiting observatory that reveals the most detailed x-ray view of the universe.  Since its launch on July 23, 1999, the Chandra X-ray telescope has been NASA's flagship mission for X-ray astronomy, taking its place in the fleet of "Great Observatories."'  You can also see lots of fascinating detail about Chandra on NASA's website page "Exploring the Invisible Universe" here.

COLORING SPACE juxtaposes images from NASA-operated satellites taken between 1998 and 2008 with a selection of pointillist spheres from my ORGANIVERSE Starry Night edition.

The project is intended, as the people at Chandra say, “to provoke thought about how the two realms of color - in art and in space - intersect and diverge. This piece explores the similarities of how these different types of images are made, as well as discusses the ways in which they differ. We invite you to explore these images and what they represent both on their own and when presented as a comparison, or contrast, to another in a separate field.”

Organiverse - Original set created in 1972

The original series of 100 Organiverse paintings (or “Helios” edition) was painted on watercolour paper - - - dot by dot, atom by atom. There are four spheres per folio, for a portfolio of 25 pages.  This was done back in 1972, long before the Internet, or even fax machines. Since 1972 there has been a phenomenal evolution of electronic intelligence, of computers and software gadgets. Yet my original intent in creating Organiverse was for the viewer to view (on paper) one sphere at a time, quietly, for contemplation and meditation.  This motivation has now been overtaken by technology.

Yet it's interesting, even three decades ago, there was foreshadowing of links, a harbinger  between science and space, art and science, when filmmaker Julius Kohanyi was commissioned to create an experimental 35mm colour and sound film based on Organiverse (Also, already in the early 1960's, long before the moon landing any any NASA images or Chandra , I gave lectures and one of these was called "THE INVISIBLE MADE VISIBLE" More about that in another post.)

When it came time to give the completed film a title, Kohanyi wanted to use only a symbol: the two circles at the top left corner of this picture: (if If it looks familiar, this is from the plaque installed aboard Pioneer 11 spacecraft in 1973).
However, he was told a symbol alone wouldn’t “work” for cataloguing the film, so Julius had to give it a name, and he chose “H-A” (for Hydrogen Atom, the first building block of the universe.)

Creation of the “Starry Night” edition  - the Starry Night edition of Organiverse was born from curiosity.  In the early 2000’s, I was collaborating with Hewlett Packard (HP) who graciously agreed to scan the complete original Organiverse series using their latest scanning technology. When all 100 scans were completed, I asked the HP expert, Allen Rothwell: “Can we create a negative from the positive?” And the rest is history, as they say.  Recent developments - In the past two years, first with the recent International Year of Astronomy 2009From Earth to the Universe” exhibit which included both the Original and Starry Night editions of Organiverse on video,  and now with this special feature created by the Chandra X-Ray Center, Organiverse has taken on a life of its own.

Speical note re: "From Earth to the Universe" FETTU  - I would like to thank the volunteers of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada VICTORIA Centre who made possible last year's FETTU exhibit, and a special thank you to Garry Sedun and Joe Carr.

Although we keep a strict copyright on the work, in a way Organiverse is now "out of my hands” so-to-speak, and has orbited beyond my original intent, as said earlier: that is, for people to quietly, contemplate the spheres individually as an antidote to our multi-tasking and over-stressed times.  It was the Starry Night edition of Organiverse that caught the eye of staff at Chandra. A very special thanks to Kimberly Arcand Kowal for all her work on the project.

We wish Organiverse and Chandra X-Ray Center a healthy and constructive orbit over the "Human Family", bringing - we hope - wonder and nourishment for the mind.

ORGANIVERSE HANDSET project - in keeping with its seemingly endless evolutions, yet another initiative was born.  We thank Brian W. Johnson of Victoria, BC for his help in working with me on colour callibration of the scanned spheres, and also in developing the concept of having the images housed in a striking and innovative wood container made from recovered Westcoast wood. 

These handsets are available and we invite you to read more about these unique sets here.

Signing off for now, Happy Trails! Henri


Monsoon and beyond

Once while in India, we experienced the Monsoon season. Remember it well.

After a scorching hot and ‘blood-thinning’ month, the dark clouds and Monsoon rains came upon us.  This refreshing relief prompted us to rush outside, hold up our arms, dance and be merry with the villagers.  Something like Gene Kelly, “Singing in the Rain”.

What an enormous contrast to Pakistan with the current calamity and untold human suffering.  Some 14 million people are made homeless. A staggering number.  Mother Nature seems to be calling us to order.  Behave, or else!

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster caused much damage.  Many who lost their livelihood brought their pets to their local humane society because they couldn’t feed them any longer. This prompted citizens from all over the USA to adopt the ‘orphans’. Some even let the animals fly First Class!  We humans are a strange breed. We go to war, and kill and even get medals of honour to do so. On the other hand when called upon, we’re ready to come to the rescue.  Only this week, 45 Chihuahuas were dropped off in our community by one woman (!) at the local SPCA.  (Not sure why she had 45 Chihuahuas but  that's another story.) Within 48 hours, thirty-three of these long-eared canines available for adoption had found new homes.


Paul the Octopus - yet more developments

More news about our amazing octopus, Paul the Oracle.  Another agent has now joined the gravy train for endorsements. This one resides in England and tells us children’s books are being written.

That’s what I predicted a couple of months ago, I was "right on the money", except I won’t get any royalties. (ho-ho)/ Also I predicted awhile ago for the coming Christmas season that toys would be manufactured about this oracle from the deep. Now we discovered there is a record deal in the works, "Paul the Octopus Sings Elvis".  What Elvis the Pelvis has to do with it, I’m not quite sure. Maybe because Paul’s 8 arms are flexible and can move in all directions.  Just like Elvis moved all over the place, “all shook up”.  Stay tuned for more on Paul, the amazing 8-armed clairvoyant.


New developments about Oracle Paul the Octopus - protecting the Turtles in Greece

Have been silent for awhile. With all those worldwide communication-gadgets on the market and in homes, telling us about all the “hot news” that’s out there, tomorrow’s happenings are already news today!

One thing’s for sure, however -  every day we are getting a bit closer to the Pearly Gates, so make the best of it. A news item that’s still unfolding by the day has kept my attention: in previous posts I predicted (long before he became a news item), that the renown would spread of Paul the 8-armed Amazing Psychic Octopus of World Cup (and Bundesliga) prediction fame.

Although Paul has now retired from predicting, he has begun to spread his fame and eight arms commercially worldwide:  like the celebrity he is, Paul now has an agent! 

Already hundreds of endorsement offers have come in, expecting to bring forth millions of Euros and Dollars.

Here he is selecting a box with the name of a Germany supermarket chain, Rewe:

Saving Turtlles in Greece - but Paul has not forgotten his fellow deep sea dwellers.  One of his arms is intended to protect endangered TURTLES in Greece.  Funds will be set aside for this good cause. Here is one link to learn more about turtle protection in Greece.

Don’t ask me how I predicted Paul’s future fame, months before it happened.  The facts are there. Stay tuned for further multi-armed spreading news about Paul the amazing psychic wonder of the Deep.  That’s All Folks!  Henri


news about Paul the Octopus - transfer bid has been rejected by Germans

See our earlier blog posts about Paul and his amazing predictions, Meanwhile here's the story, from THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:

"BERLIN -- Octopus oracle Paul's prescience wasn't needed to predict how this one would turn out: His aquarium in Germany has given a resounding "nein" to a bid to move the celebrity mollusk to Spain.
(note from Henri: here's Paul making his selection for the Argentina vs. Germany match)

Paul rose from obscurity in Oberhausen's Sea Life aquarium during the World Cup to international celebrity as he correctly called the outcome of Germany's seven matches in the month-long tournament, time and again picking a mussel from a tank marked with the flag of the would-be winner.

He also correctly predicted Spain would beat Germany in the semifinals -- prompting many in his home country to speculate how he would taste grilled in garlic butter.

Already a celebrity in Spain after the semifinal prediction -- Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero offered to send a security team to protect the 2 1/2-year-old floppy octopus from the hungry Germans -- the country went wild for him after he correctly tipped Spain over the Netherlands in the finals.

Paul is now so popular in Spain that a northwestern Spanish town tried to borrow him. Officials in O Caraballino, population 14,000, declared that the octopus is their "honorary friend" and wanted Paul's presence to promote a seafood festival, the Faro de Vigo newspaper said.

A businessman from the town also offered 30,000 euros (C$40,740) to buy Paul, but the newspaper said Sea Life declined.

In response to hundreds of requests to bring Paul to Spain, the Madrid Zoo this week asked Sea Life if it would be willing to make a deal to bring him in as a tribute to the Spanish soccer team's victory.

"They brought the World Cup, we bring Paul," zoo spokeswoman Amparo Fernandez told The Associated Press. "He's a symbol of this championship."

She said the zoo had asked for Paul to come on either a temporary or permanent basis, and had proposed an exchange of animals. She said no financial offer had been made, but that it would be considered if necessary.

But Sea Life spokeswoman Kerstin Kuehn said there was no way it would happen.

"It's totally out of the question to sell Paul or lend him out," she said in an email. "Paul will enjoy his greatly deserved retirement in Sea Life in Oberhausen." "


(1) More about 'Le Tour' and (2) Salish Sea officially named

Enjoyed the massive fields of sunflowers and vineyards while taking in today’s stage of the Tour de France.  Soon they’ll be in the Pyrenees. Before then, we’ll start seeing fields and fields of lavender.

See what I meant about the Tour being a free tour of summer scenery in France?  (See earlier posts about the Tour from a few days ago, below.)

We’re pleased to learn that the body of water at our doorstep now has a name, the Salish Sea. The large area of coastal waters off the south coast of British Columbia was officially named the Salish Sea yesterday. It includes Juan de Fuca Strait, the Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound. If only now the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico would get another name, then we’d be sailing in the right direction!  Til later, Henri

"Biggest Transfer Story of the Summer"? Paul the Octopus adventures continue

"Paul the octopus set for sensational transfer to Madrid aquarium - Spanish zoo prepared to meet 'any demands' to sign German cephalopod that predicted team's World Cup final victory."  (The Guardian, UK, July 15)

The City of Madrid "Zoo Aquarium" has offered to buy the amazing psychic Octopus, Paul, from the Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany.  Sum unknown.
Since Spain won it all, and now prides itself as holder of the golden World Cup futbal trophy for the next four years, it seems only fitting. After all, Paul predicted the win over Netherlands, although the score was a minimal 1-0 result.
Now I am curious to know whether Oberhausen will even consider accepting this offer (the fans in Germany may object!);  how much was the offer for, and if Oberhausen does part with Paul, how will the Madrid Zoo (or anyone in fact) know if it is indeed the Paul. Who can tell the difference, except another Octopus?

Temporary Cap on Gulf of Mexico Leak

We’re all aware of the horrendous ecological damage going on in the Gulf of Mexico.  Not to speak of the suffering of innocent creatures, and the human misery.  Comedian George Lopez, host of a late-night talk show "Lopez Tonight", broadcast live from Burbank, California, calls it Gulf of “Texaco”, and said last night “We now have a Gulf divided into two sections:  leaded and unleaded.”

Today BP seems to have capped temporarily the source of the leak. It’s a test.  Let us hope this effort will be successful.  But what about the hundreds of millions of litres of oil, and the delicate habitat, plus the livelihoods based on fishing or ‘shrimping’. Not to mention the bird colonies under siege by the oily mess.  Then there are the rare manatees in those waters, and the dolphins.

There is an alternative, the Sun brings us mega-warmth and energy on a daily basis, yet it’s free.  The sun never sends us an invoice.  Something to ponder.


Tour de France - Bastille Day, "Le Quatorze Juillet"

Just watched the finish of today’s stage of the Tour de France, in the town of Gap.  This time not too much climbing, a few in the 1,000 metres and one in the 2,000 metres range.  Today the fellows had to cope however with Africa-like temperatures at least 36 degrees C.  

All that heat was making the tar on the roadways soft, creating a hazard for the riders. Especially on the hairpin turns down the Col du Noyer, descents where they zoom along at 75 km/hr.

I call this race the “Tour de Force”.  No matter what the weather is like:  rain, hail, fog, sometimes snow on the summits, or hot temperatures like today, the Tour goes on.

And as if completing one stage is not challenging enough, let alone all 23 stages of the full Tour, any rider who gets to the finish after a time limit set by the race organizers, is unceremoniously kicked out - eliminated!

Today there were beautiful camera views along the route of the Haute-alps, taken by the photographer in a helicopter.  The helicopter sent some horses running, accompanied by a lone donkey.  They’re now all immortalized, on today the national holiday of France, Le Quatorze Juillet. Bastille Day.

Hopefully these past couple of blog posts have stirred some appetite to tune into this magnificent sports race, which began already 103 years ago!  A bientot, Henri


Tomorrow is Bastille Day, "Quartoze de Juillet" on the Tour

Tomorrow, July 14, is “Quartorze de Juillet” in France. Les francaises celebrate Bastille Day.

You can be sure to see many tricoloured banners and flags along the Tour de France stage to Gap. Yes, the Tour has its history of cheaters using drug-enhanced energy inputs, but overall most of these fellows are going on their own strength.  So we have recently had the amazing Paul the Octopus and his World Cup predictions, and now the amazing bike race of the Tour de France. Ah yes, there is a Canadian amongst these 120-plus riders, with the appropriate name of Ryder Hesjedal. He grew up here on beautiful Vancouver Island and lives nearby.  We wish him good luck, or as the French say, “Bonne chance!”.  A la prochaine, Henri

Le Tour de France

From one very popular sports event to another.  Maybe this one is not well-known in North America (although there’s a Texan by the name of Lance Armstrong involved), but I’m talking about the most gruelling sports event in the world, the Tour de France.  (“Le Tour”).
Gruelling both mentally and physically.  This incredible mega-race on a bike is already into day 10, with 15 more days to go.  Today the riders had to climb the Col de la Madeleine in the Alps at Haute-Savoie.  And that was after they already been riding 150 kms on their bikes today alone!  So, for a pleasant addition, they had to climb 1 hour non-stop to the 2,000 metre summit.  Then descend at average speeds of 70 km/hr right to the end of today’s stage, where again there was another 700m climb to the finish line.

I first heard about the Tour in the Lowlands when I was 3 years old, through my father. I am not a fanatic about the Tour, but I do respect the riders efforts and love the panorama and scenery these fellows have to race through.  It’s a great way to follow the various locales and mountain regions of France.

World Cup winds down, Octopus popularity goes up

Did anyone notice the Spanish fan in Madrid dressed like an octopus? Also some people were wearing T-shirts with an octopus design.  All thanks to the amazing Paul who resides in an aquarium at Oberhausen, Germany.  See my posts below for more details about his exceptional record of predicting the match outcomes.  Paul predicted Spain’s victory over the Netherlands.

And now there is a big demand worldwide for squid or calamari, pulpo, at the fish markets world-wide!  Unfortunately, since this won’t do much to help this species.  People have a strange mindset, now thinking eating octopus will help give them psychic powers. (Like in Asia where so many species are at risk or virtually extinct because of a strange mindset about aphrodisiac powers of various animal parts.)
We have our own "Paul" as you can see beside this post. Got it a few years ago on the island of Domenica, calligraphy courtesy of Natasha.


Mani the Parakeet, Paul the Octopus - and (new) Sockeye Salmon

Now we have a fortune-telling or "prediction competition" between two non-humans:  Mani, the 13-year old Parakeet in Singapore, who predicted all 4 quarterfinal matches and the two semi-finals correctly (Mani says Holland will win the final tomorrow), and Paul in Oberhausen, Germany, the 3-year old Octopus who has picked Spain to win it all!
Since we’re on the subject, did you know some smartalec coined the word “soccer” from the words “Associated Football”.  Now I'm asking you! Some bright light of the human species spotted 3 letters and made a whole new word out of it.  (A new name was necessary because "Football" in America points to another game with a ball. In that game the ball is thrown by hand more than played with the “foot”. Ho-ho!)
Speaking of words:    SUK-KEGH  (Sockeye Salmon) 

Another item about a name.  We live here on the Pacific coast in beautiful Victoria and are privileged to be able to have fresh Salmon on the menu, that I cook.  As you know there are various species, and the one we're enjoying fresh these dayas is Sockeye.  Now, I’m asking you again, giving a fish a name by a combination of the words “sock” and “eye”!
Who on earth coined that one, we asked?  So we did some research and sure enough, some English brain heard the Coast Salish word for Sockeye, “Suk-kegh”, meaning “Red Fish”, and what he heard has been carved in stone, as Sockeye.

All we need now is to find a local native from the Coast Salish who can teach us how to pronounce “Suk-kegh”.  My guess is “sook-ke”.
Back to the World Cup: now we await in a few hours the outcome of the consolation prize, and the tomorrow results of the mega trophy match. The Oracle of Oberhausen, Paul the Octopus, will he be correct in predicting Spain will win?  In any event, some reincarnation from Delphi or Nostradamus had saved his eight arms from being sautéed in garlic, because he has also predicted a win for Germany over Uruguay today. (He wasn't popular after predicting the outcome of the earlier match between Spain and Germany!)
Let us not forget, Paul has as many legs as four futbal players! And maybe four times the brainpower of one who kicks a ball all over the place!


Paul Predicts Again - and has a 'rival", Mani the Parakeet

Who can foretell good fortune and misfortune for the same event? Paul, the amazing Octopus in Oberhausen, Germany – that’s who! He predicted so far all the wins and losses of Germany in the World Cup (associated football, which they call “soccer” here in North America).  Let me give you a prediction of my own.  We see worldwide fame for this 8-armed all-knowing fortune teller.   

This will be expressed in Paul the Octopus toys, gadgets such as are usually made in homage of superstars or creatures that touch the imagination of the young and young-at-heart! His 8 arms will cover the globe, like ET or the Dinosaur toys. Hats, t-shirts, plates, you name it.  Not just now but for a long time to come.  And people will flock to his Aquarium in Oberhausen to see first-hand this amazing creature.
Now for Sunday’s final match: first, some weeks ago, I predicted Spain would win this World Cup.  What makes this final game more interesting, for romantics and aficionados alike, is neither Holland nor Spain have ever won the World Cup trophy.  On Sunday, one of these countries will be added to the ‘sanctum sanctorum’.
Now there are two matches to go for Paul to predict. This is the first time he’s predicted a non-German team match. He says Spain will win. See the story here at Huffington Post .  And for Saturday's game, he has just predicted a victory for Germany.  So maybe he won't be turned into a 'grilled with garlic' dish?"

And now there is another Seer, again from the non-human species:  Mani the Psychic Parakeet.  Based in Singapore, 13-year old Mani has predicted Holland will win the trophy.
I go with Paul.  Coming from a Hollander, how is that for a non-biased prediction? Hup Holland Hup!  Ole, Ole Espana!  Henri


More about Paul the amazing Octopus and the World Cup

Canadians aren't really known to be big "soccer" aficionados, but that is changing. Where I grew up, in Flanders and Holland, we call the game Voetbal = Football and that's correct, the game is played 98% by passing the ball with the feet.  In North America the popular game of Football is a misnomer, since 98% of that game is played by hand!
How about Paul the Octopus, what a magician.  He has now a 7/7 perfect record for predicting the outcome of the German matches in the World Cup of FOOTBALL in South Africa.

The match between Germany and Spain yesterday was his seventh correct prediction.  Just google Paul the Octopus and you'll find out all about him if you don't already know. He resides in an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany (but is originally from England).
Anyhow, after yesterday's match, in Germany there are calls to turn Paul into "Calamari"! And apparently some people sang "Anti-Octopus" songs (whatever that is.) Meanwhile over in Spain they're praising Paul with acolades and songs, "Ole, Ole, Paulo el Pulpo Magico!".
Now we await the Final on Sunday of this popular game, worldwide viewership expected to be around 2 Billion.  How about that for popularity amongst the human family?
As for that final - Holland vs. Spain - neither team has ever won the biggest prize of them all.
Prediction?  I leave that up to Paul "El Pulpo Miraculoso".  Yes, for the first time ever he's doing to make a prediction about a non-German match.  Paul, who brings tears now to some in Germany, and joy to others around the world.
Hasta Luego!  "Hup Holland Hup!"


New Vimeo Site - come and visit

We have a new Vimeo site featuring two videos of my artwork "Organiverse", thanks to Joe Carr, Past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Victoria branch.  They are very short, just a few minutes each.