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Oct. 04, 2012

Paint by Numbers

by Annette Heist

Click to enlarge images
This Friday we'll talk with mathematician Steven Strogatz, about his new book "The Joy of X."  To get you primed for thinking about equations, here's a selection of math-inspired art. 
 
Hong Kong-based high school math teacher Suman Vaze says she spends much of the day "thinking of and marveling at sequences, patterns, puzzles, and other mathematical curiosities." Her work "Bubbles in May" (below) is inspired by Johnson circles -- three circles of equal radii passing through a common point.
 
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The work below illustrates Pascal's Theorem and Pascal Lines. The painting "shows the Pascal Line in a zig-zag inscribed hexagon," according to Vaze. 
 
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You can see more of Vaze's work here.
 
Artist Sienna Morris doesn't paint, but she does use numbers. Lots and lots of tiny little numbers. Morris sketched "Einstein" (below) using equations that describe the photoelectric effect as well as the "famous" E=mc2. The equations literally make the man. (See "Einstein detail" below.) 
 
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Morris's drawings also include similar takes on Schrödinger's cat and Fibonacci numbers. Of her work she says "I didn't think people would dig it, because people don't like math. But the way science and math are taught is dull, and people really do have this curiosity. People really like it." You can see more of Morris's work here.
 
Alan Singer teaches digital art and printmaking at Rochester Institute of Technology. Singer says every part of the two images below is a "mathematical visualization" or the translation of an equation. 
 
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On using math for inspiration Singer says "I used to think art and mathematics were on different planets, now I see it as part of a continuum. With the help of a computer, anything that can be measured can be visualized.  We already see astounding things at the cinema, and now I want to bring that to the fine arts." You can see more of Singer's work here
 
Need more math-inspired art? You can spend hours browsing at the online Bridges Art Gallery
About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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