Monthly Archives: July 2012

Drawing in the Library …

New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Samuel Nigro

Samuel Nigro

Samuel Nigro Drawings

Samuel Nigro Drawings

Samuel Nigro Drawings

I find a change of locations for brief periods can help me think
especially when I need a quick burst of concentration.
So, today, I went to the library.

After the brainstorming session, I cooled down with some figure drawing
on scratch paper.

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Oranges and Distance and the Transit of Venus

Venus is said to be our sister planet: about the same size, mass and density as Earth; and just 30% closer to the sun. Venus has an atmosphere filled with CO2, and, because of the heat trapping properties of this greenhouse gas, averages over 400 degrees C on a good day – hotter than Mercury, which is closer to the sun…. I’d still go … to either. Anyway: the Transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event. It happens in pairs: there was one in 2004 and 2012 and the last pairing was in 1874 and 1882. Historically, we measured the size of our solar system by observing this and similar events. Now, we have the Hubble Space Telescope, the Kelper Spacecraft  and others to get similar and other interesting measurements. The Transit of Venus won’t happen again until 2117. On June 5, 2012, Venus crossed between us and the sun. Something the whole world could marvel in. I went to witness.

Samuel Nigro

Samuel Nigro

Samuel Nigro

Transit of Venus

Transit of Venus

This was an exciting event and got me to think about many things. Too many for a single post. However, I will elaborate on the issue of distance.  The simplest analogy of the vastness of our solar system and the universe that I have come across was stated by Sir Martin Rees in his book  Just Six Numbers, p. 81-82

Suppose our star, the Sun, were modeled by an orange. The Earth would be a millimeter-sized grain twenty meters (65 feet!) away, orbiting around it. Depicted to the same scale, the nearest stars would be 10,000 kilometers away (about 6,214 miles!): that is how thinly spread matter is in a galaxy like ours.

Try to visualize that one: Earth, Sun, the next closest Star; a grain of sand, 65 feet, over 6,0oo miles! He goes on, but … You know what? I’m gonna give you the rest of the quote, because it blows me away even though I have a difficult time imagining it. It has to do with understanding why the universe’s expansion is not slowing down because of gravity, like we initially thought, but expanding. I this. Have fun, or just skip to the end:

But galaxies are, of course, especially high concentrations of stars. If all  the stars from all of the galaxies were dispersed through intergalactic space, then each star would be several hundred times further from its nearest neighbor than it actually is within a typical galaxy – in our scale model, each orange would be millions of  kilometers from its nearest neighbor. If all the stars were dismantled and their atoms spread uniformly through our universe, we’d end up with just one atom in every ten cubic meters. There is about as much again (but seemingly no more) in the form of diffuse gas between the galaxies. That’s a total of 0.2 atoms per cubic meter, twenty-five times less than the critical density of five atoms per cubic meter that would be needed for gravity to bring cosmic expansion to a halt.

OK: Vast, Huge stuff.

The other major issue that I though about
when viewing the Tranist of Venus is
The Iconic Geometry of the Circle.
That’s for a future post.

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Filed under Astronomy, Story

What’s the deal with this “i heart” thing?

To say i like is not strong enough
To say i love is inappropriate

To heart something is to have an infatuation with it,
to be in awe of it.

i heart implies a desire to know more.

∃!

uniqueness


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The backwards “e” symbol, ∃, means “existence” in mathematics – “There exists….” Put an exclamation point after, ∃!,  and it means “uniqueness.” Translation: “There exists one and only one …” i.e. there is only one solution. These are important issues when looking for solutions to any problem: does a solution exist? And, are there other possibilities? The lovely point here is that uniqueness presupposes existence! I find it fun to think about uniqueness and all these puzzles, because there is a connection to human agency, which is connected to free will. Are you able to perform your own actions, have your own thoughts? Can you create a gesture that is entirely your own, a unique gesture? Unique means one of a kind and needs no qualification. Something is unique or it is not. Or, you can be playful, like Robert Sapolsky – all species are unique, but the human species is unique-ier.


infinity


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The Finite deals with things that have a limit, things that can be counted and measured. The Infinite is a mathematical concept for that which never ends or is limitless. Infinity plus infinity equals … infinity … and that is awesome. Informally, infinity can simply mean Vast, Endless, and Unbounded. Did you know that there are different kinds and different sized infinities? That is super-awesome. Like with both uniqueness and unity, people want to co-opt infinity and claim it as their own – or, rather, define it for a purpose. Why with infinity? Not sure, but I think it has something to do with sussing out the infinite factors that conspire to make you you, or your neighbor your neighbor – and prioritizing them.


unity


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Unity is the number one (1) in mathematics. There is much discussion given to the unity of mathematics and the unity of physics and the unity of groups and the unity of ideas and the unity of minds and the unity among peoples.  Unity is the state of being one, joined and whole – a grand concept. Who wants to be separated, fractured and lost? Well … i guess … you can make a case for either, depending on the context. Nevertheless, unity is created among us … on small and grand scales – along many lines of reason, with various, changing outcomes.

 
Unique, Infinite, Unity – I heart these concepts

– precise meanings in math; informal usage abound; claims made constantly.

I have a respect
for

the complexities of claiming
uniqueness
and the messiness of pinning down
infinity.

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Undo and Redo, Old and New

At thirteen, David Siskovic bought his first keyboard behind his parents’ back because he was forbidden to do so and wanted to be a musician and loved Duran Duran. A decade plus later, as a struggling musician in New York, he gets the opportunity to remix one of their songs – a dream come true. Moments later, he works with Roxy Music and another dream fulfilled. Sisko (his popular moniker and how he first introduced himself to me 20 years ago) is a talented musician, who specializes in global pop and electronic music, and has worked with renowned artists such as Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani. Read an article in Sonic Scoop about Sisko HERE. Listen to his dance music as Disco Pusher, HERE and learn about his recording studio, Min Max, HERE.

One of his birthdays a few years ago, he gave away to all his friends an album of ambient music called Pacify. The music was a gift
and meant to be listened to while falling asleep or in the background. I loved it. Layered and rich, it is like a long lullaby.
Listen to more of Pacify HERE. The song in the first video is Leaving the Surface from this album.
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I add two of my own, short motifs to the first video: Can you hear them?
I use one of these motifs 
in the second, shorter video. Can you guess which one?
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The breaking of stone – unpredictable, irreversible and consequential: it remains my basic theme.
I correlate it with the formation of an idea, and
 I am fascinated with analogous events
in our political, social and cultural interactions.
You can read some of my thoughts on stone HERE
and see my earlier work HERE.

This post bridges the old with the new. I broke the stones in the 90’s, which were some of the first breaking I ever recorded; the sitting is a new action as of two and a half years ago.
I still draw from the basic impulse explained in 
The Command List (1999)
and its companion essay,
 Strategy is the Status Quo (2001).
Find them HERE and HERE.

Finally, the use and manipulation of one’s image is not confined to contemporary art. It is a hallmark of our age.
Two of my concerns, in this regard, revolve around the body
as a manifestation of a social order and material systems,
and as a thinking, geometric tool. There are others.

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