Oldster's View

Fight Against Maturity

Illness helped Van Gogh to capture the perfect storm

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The chaotic swirls of Vincent van Gogh’s later paintings may owe as much to science as they do to art. Physicists believe that some of his works are uncannily accurate pictures of the complex mathematics of turbulence, the phenomenon behind bumpy aircraft rides, cloud formations and the flow of ocean currents.

Van Gogh painted three of his most agitated paintings, A Starry Night, Road with Cypress and Star and Wheat Field with Crows, towards the end of his life when he was suffering prolonged bouts of epilepsy.

José Luis Aragón, a physicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, believes that Van Gogh’s delusions may have given him an insight into how turbulence works.

One of the artist’s doctors noted that the seizures involved “acute mania with hallucinations of sight and hearing”, which Van Gogh described as “the storm within”. Symptoms included visions and unprovoked feelings of anger, confusion and fear.

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July 17, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Illness helped Van Gogh to capture the perfect storm

Next Thing To Mars

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…astronomers starting shift at the [Very Large Telescope] or VLT, as it’s known in the star-gazing fraternity, undeniably work in one of the harshest and most remote environments short of an alien planet.

The VLT is located on the flattened peak of Cerro Paranal, a 2,635m-high mountain in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth – 50 times drier than California’s Death Valley. Its boulder-littered red sand is entirely without vegetation. It is dry and sterile enough that the Atacama has been used as an analogue for Mars in Nasa studies, but even so, around 120 astronomers, engineers and support staff work here at a time.

Modern observatories go to where the stars are, and Paranal’s high-altitude, low-humidity and extreme remoteness give it some of the clearest skies in the world.

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July 17, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Next Thing To Mars

AA Plane

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aaplane.jpg An aeroplane powered entirely by tiny AA batteries has taken off in Japan. The plane, which used 160 AA batteries, flew 1,283ft in one minute. It is believed to be the world’s first household battery-powered takeoff, reports the Mirror.

A member of the Tokyo Institute of Technology team behind it said: “I didn’t think it would fly so beautifully.”

Weighing just under 97lbs, the plane has a [95 foot] wingspan and was piloted by a [135 pound] student. The Tokyo team hopes it will be recognised as a record by the Japan Aeronautic Association.

July 17, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on AA Plane