Recently I visited two exhibitions and both have completely blown my mind.
The first was the Cosmonauts exhibition at the science museum in London and the second was the Phillips collection where I had the opportunity to see the Paul Allen
collection in Washington DC.
So about Cosmonauts first: the exhibition tells the story of Soviet Russia’s foray into space and how it put the first man-made objects, landed them on other planets and launch the first man into space. Imagine seeing the space suit worn by Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space! It was a stunning experience as well as a very moving one.
There was a letter there from a young girl who asked the soviet space agency to send her to the moon because she had the appropriate fur coat and boots! She said that she was willing to die but would they please please send her!
This passion for space and exploration is not new and the exhibition showed the excitement generated the world over when when the Gagarin went into space.
What does this have to do with optics?
Well if you’ve seen the new photographs from Pluto they completely break apart the theories that we have about planets. How can a planet that is not in geologically active have mountains?
The roll that optics has to play in all this is is opening our eyes to new wavelengths- enabling us to observe the world in frequencies that we haven’t been able to do so before as effectively as we can now. With the new sources and detectors in the IR and far IR we should be able to detect signs of life potentially!
So with optics to the stars then! And this time we can possibly travel there too.
And now about the Paul Allen collection: at the OSA winter leadership meeting there was a reception held at the Phillips collection, and I’ll gallery in D.C. The Paul Allen collection on landscape painting with charted how landscape painting has changed over 400 hundred years was being shown.
The sumptuous collection of Monets, Manets, Signacs, even a Matisse and Kandinsky, a surreal Magritte were simply fabulous! Unfortunately i could not take photographs of these and post them here.
Optics took me to DC and it was optics that give me the opportunity to see these masterpieces. Not to mention that there was the visual optical process of actually looking at these paintings.
Overall I would say optics is a win-win! I had a fabulous time and I hope you can experience what Art other sciences bring in conjunction with optics in to our lives.