META exists at the crossroads of art and science and of culture and nature. Tracing the uncommon threads between common topics, META presents its readers with views into the abyss of visual information and with experiments in associative reading. META invites you to browse according to taste.
You may ask, â€œwhat?â€ An archive, a Wunderkammer, a magazine guided by methods of research, collection, preservation, reprint and the linking of topics at their META level.
You may then ask, â€œwhy?â€ To play with information in all its astatic glory. META refrains from attempts at categorization, taking a gamble on dynamic navigation! META eschews the linear in favor of surprise. Each visit starts with a random welcome and ends with an even more random exit.
TIMOTHY J. ATTANUCCI (1979) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studies German literature at Princeton and the Humboldt University, Berlin. For META, he contributes his musings on the irony mark in No Irony.
DAVID BETH (1974) is a writer and esoteric explorer, and the sovereign Grand Master of the Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua. Learn more about his Gnostic involvement in XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King, where he is interviewed by Ailen Roc.
SUMMER BRENNER is an accomplished writer of poetry and fiction, based in Berkeley, California. Her writing has extended beyond the borders of print into performative and musical realms, and she is also involved with literacy and community projects targeted at youths. For META, she reads from her critically acclaimed novel and discusses her motivation for the project in Driving I-5.
OLAF BREUNING (1970) is a Swiss artist, living in New York and working in photography, video, sculpture, installation and drawing. For METAâ€™s mini interview series, he shares some of his favorite things in accompaniment to a selection of photographic works. See Mini Breuning.
Illustrations by William Buchina
WILLIAM BUCHINA (1978) is an illustrator with a penchant for portraits of political tyrants. In addition, he is a graphic designer and creator of illustrated guides to English grammar. Some of his work is viewable here. He currently lives and works in New York. See his work in The Body of the Event.
DAVE BUNNELL (1952) lives in the small gold-rush era town of Angels Camp, California. This professional spelunker and photographer worked on an Imax film about caves, somewhere beneath Mexico. META interviewed him for Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites.
PETRA CORONATO is probably the only author in the world who didnâ€™t only read Alexanderplatz, but also swept it. She is the owner of tongue tongue Hong Kong, a company founded in 1993 with dependences in Berlin, Vienna and Zurich, which recycles fiction profitably and unpunished to this day. In 2006, she commenced the ongoing photography project The Poetry of Document.
Writer Jeffrey Croteau is the Manager of the Library and Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Massachusetts. Read another of his articles on American Masonic groups, ''Brotherly Deception'' published in Cabinet Magazine here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
MICHELE DANTINIâ€™s (1966) work is characterized by its handling of trans-cultural practices and their socio-environmental implications. A widely translated essayist and performative lecturer, he holds a position as Professor of Contemporary Art History at the UniversitÃ del Piemonte Orientale, Italy. See Chronicles of Deaths Foretold.
PAULINE DOUTRELUINGNE (1982) lived in Beijing for four years, where she co-organized the 2006 Borderline Moving Images Festival. She lives in Berlin and curates projects that bridge European and Asian art. For META, she interviewed Chen Wei in Archeology of the Future.
GEN DOY is Lecturer at De Montfort University. She is the author of Picturing The Self, Drapery and Black Visual Culture. For META, Doy discusses the sensual politics of photography in the works of Claude Cahun.
Ferrante Denise Palma
DENISE PALMA FERRANTE (1975) is a multi-disciplined artist living and working in Berlin. She is also a self-declared anti-religionist. See Timkat 2009.
ADAM FOXWELL is an American audio engineer who has worked internationally, consulting on acoustical room design, sound isolation and mechanical noise control. For META, he presents a study on noise exposure in On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JACQUE FRESCO (1916) is an industrial designer and social engineer, author, lecturer, inventor and Futurist. Based in Venus, Florida, he is developing the practice of Socio-Cyber-Neering. Read the META interview Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project.
Dr. BRUNO GLASER is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Soil Science and Soil Geography at the University of Bayreuth. For over several years he has been conducting Amazonian dark earth research from a soil science perspective including soil fertility, sustainability, and archaeology aspects. See Terra Preta .
MARA GOLDWYN (1976) calls herself an artist but does not show anywhere and would never actually introduce herself as such. She has an existential allergy to genres, categories and identity constructs. See Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine.
LINDA MAI GREEN (1987) is a photographer and curator based in Berlin. She also co-runs curatorial collectiveÂ Una Tittel.Â For META article A Bridge and Not a Goal, she interviewed artist Serena Porrati.
Artist CAI GUO-QIANG (1957) was born in Chinaâ€™s Fujian Province. While living in Japan between 1986 and 1995 he began to experiment with gunpowder as a medium, gaining international attention. He has gone on to exhibit world wide and to produce large scale pyrotechnic art works. See On Explosions.
Sculptor PATRICK HILL (1972) has exhibited widely in the US and internationally as an important representative of the contemporary Los Angeles art scene. David Kordansky Gallery provided META with images of Hillâ€™s work for Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated.
ASDF Makes founder DAVID HORVITZ (1983) is a man of many ideas. One could say this American artistâ€™s medium is the Internet, though it may be more accurate to say that he works in interactive projects. See ASDFâ€”Read On.
RUA MINX is Donna Huanca (1980), an artist who deals with clothing as shelter, transportable homes for nomads and cultural and genetic traces. Her various projects have received a range of support, from the Dallas Museum of Art to StÃ¤delschule, Frankfurt; from the Incehon Womenâ€™s Biennale Korea to British Vogue. She launched METAâ€™s downloadable artist piece series with Mask Maker.
Artist PIETER HUGO (1976) has spent his whole life in Cape Town, South Africa, though travelled extensively pursuing his characteristic brand of documentary photography. A 2002-3 residency at the Beneton Group Communication Research Center, Fabrica, also led to work with Colors magazine. In 2006 he was awarded first prize in the World Press Photo competitionâ€™s Portraits section. Welcome to Nollywood explores a recent project carried out with the Nigerian film industry.
Idnert B. Zlatan
ZLATAN B. IDNERT is an audio engineer who has worked in the fields of modelling for outdoor noise propagation, building acoustics and ground borne vibrations. He has widely consulted on acoustical engineering projects. See On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JAN KEMPENAERS (1968) is an artist and documentary photographer based in Antwerp. He creates mute images of semi urban-places. Regardless of geographical context, his photographs speak powerfully to the post industrial condition and of the technologized human subject. See Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia.
TAO LIN (1983) is an American poet, novelist and short story writer. He is the author of Shoplifting from American Apparel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and Bed, as well as two poetry collections, you are a little bit happier than I am, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Linâ€™s second novel, Richard Yates, was published in September 2010.
See Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle.
TAMMY LU is a Canadian artist who makes drawings and artistsâ€™ books. She is the cover artist for the New Metaphysics philosophy series published by Open Humanities Press. See more of her work here. For META she did the drawings for METAphorism.
DAVID MAISELâ€™s (1961) photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention. His work is included in many permanent collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maisel lives and works in the area of San Francisco. See Blooming Souls.
Alison Malone is a photographer and educator who uses both audio and visual documentation to explore subcultures that are overlooked and often misunderstood in American society. View additional work here. For META her photographic series of the same name inspired the article Daughters of Job.
SERGEY MAXIMISHIN (1964) photographed for the Soviet Military Force Group on Cuba from 1985 to 1987. A learned physicist, he worked in the scientific and technical expertise laboratory in the Hermitage Museum and has gone on to become an award winning press photographer.
See The Dostoevsky of Photography.
CONNIE MENDOZA (1971) is a media artist, working between Berlin and Barcelona. Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena discusses her film, in which Mendoza travels back to her birthplace to trace the complex relationships of her childhood to Chilean history and space travel, thereby producing images that mediate the perception of time as a highly subjective matter.
Apostolos Mitsios (1979) is a Greek psychologist, working as a systemic psychotherapist by day and as a freelance writer, preferably, by night. A former contributing editor at online design magazine yatzer.com, he is currently collaborating with the Projective Fairy Tale Test Society in Greece as well as various magazines all over the world. For META article, Death of a Performance, he interviewed artist Esther Ferrer about her intervention at the Cemetery of Art of Morille, Spain.
RACHAEL MORRISON (1981) is an artist, curator, and a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is the creator of an art work and a documentary film about the blind telephone hacker Joybubbles, as she describes in 718-362-9578.
TIMOTHY MORTON (1968) is a philosopher and ecologist, and a teaching professor at Rice University. He also is one of the leading figures in the philosophical movement of Speculative Realism. For META he penned some pithy aphorism on the paradigm shift in metaphysics. See METAphorism.
Architect WILLEM JAN NEUTELINGS (1959) has taught at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and Harvard University. His firm, Neutelings Riedijk Architects, is located in Rotterdam. He wrote Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia on Jan Kempenaerâ€™s photo-documentation.
Nikolaj Nielsen is a Brussels-based journalist. For META, Nielsen considers the provocative film "Enjoy Poverty Please" by Dutch artist Renzo Martens in regards to the The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid. For more of Nielsen's writing, visit his website.
Andreas Ã–nnerfors (1971) is Associate Professor in the History of Sciences and Ideas based in Lund, Sweden. He has written extensively on organized fraternal sociability in Europe in the context of civil society, cryptology and conspiracy theories. In 2007 he re-enacted a female masonic ritual, contributed to the deciphering project of the copiale-manuscript and commented on the Oslo terrorist Breivik's imaginary world of knighthood in counter-jihadism. Watch a 2012 lecture on "Perceptions of Freemasonry from the 18th century to the Internet" here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
Yoshua OkÃ³n was born in Mexico City in 1970 where he currently lives. In his often absurd and provocative art, OkÃ³n stages partially scripted scenes using non-actors whose own identities and histories make up the true, underlying story. See Octopus. OkÃ³n founded the artist-run space La PanaderÃa in 1994 and the artist-run space and school SOMA in 2009, both in Mexico City.
LISE PATT is the founder of the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, a peripatetic visual think tank currently headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Over the years she has treated â€˜collaborationâ€™ as an artist medium, in the development of a non-profit organization that embraces â€˜collective camouflageâ€™ in their ongoing projects. See Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry.
KONRAD PETROVSZKY (1977) is a historian specializing in the intellectual history of Southeastern Europe. He wrote a PhD thesis on early modern historiography in Ottoman Europe at the Free University, Berlin. He talks Romania and reenactment in The Body of the Event.
Italian artist SERENA PORRATI (1981) is now currently enrolled in the inaugural year of the MA in Art and Science Program at Central St. Martins in London. She lets META in on her Nietzsche in Turin archive for Linda Greenâ€™s article, A Bridge and Not a Goal.
SUSANNE QUEHENBERGER is a Cultural Studies student at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her focus is climate change, specifically its potential to bring about societal restructuring and the role of art in this scenario. Since 2007, she has worked as an urban gardening activist. For META, she shares her thoughts on geoengineering in Artificial Skies.
Haitian-born, DC-raised MAX RAMEAU is a pan-African theorist, organizer and founder of the group, Take Back the Land. He has worked on issues ranging from economic development to ex-felons. He discusses the US housing crisis in Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.
MILO RAU (1977) is a journalist, essayist, historian, playwright, translator, teacher, film-maker, blogger, reenactor and director of IIPM (International Institute of Political Murder, or Institute for Theoretic and Artistic Reenactments). See The Body of the Event.
AILEN ROC studied various esoteric fields such as ceremonial Magick, Sexual Magick, Tantra, Astrology, Tarot, the Quaballah and different astral-levels along with Psychology. She is currently working on her own tarot deck and a book combining certain occult fields with elements of psychology. See XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King.
ALAN SHAPIRO (1956) is a key contributor to the fields of idea philosophy, software engineering and social choreography. At 15, he began studying at MIT and has more recently published a book on Star Trek and given talks at the Transmediale and Ars Electronica festivals. In an interview with META, he explains why â€œBeing against work as it is constituted today is fundamental.â€ See A New Computer Science is Underway.
SITU STUDIO was founded in 2005 while its partners were studying architecture at The Cooper Union. Operating at the intersection of architecture and a variety of other disciplines, Situ Studioâ€™s work has been enriched by close collaborations with geologists, writers, engineers, biologists, activists and artists. See Out of Control.
GARY SMALL, M.D., is the Director of the UCLA Memory and Aging Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is the author of iBrain Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind. See This is Your Brain on Technology.
COSETTE THOMPSON is a French-American human rights consultant and freelance writer based in Arizona, USA, where she directed Amnesty International for many years. Her current interests focus on the contribution of artistic expression to the field of human rights and on the protection of threatened languages. See Sentenced to Read.
van Haarlem Dr. Michiel P.
DR. MICHIEL VAN HAARLEM (1964) is the Managing Director of the LOFAR Foundation in the Netherlands, a part of the ASTRON Institute. The astronomer discusses the next generation of telescopes in METAâ€™s Harmony of the Spheres.
Vanden Eynde Maarten
Belgian-born MAARTEN VANDEN EYNDE (1977) lives and works between Rotterdam, Brussels and Saint Mihiel. His projects span all art media, focussing on topics of ecology, archeology, biology and zoology. In 2006 he founded Enough Room for Space for â€œthe creation of physical, virtual and mental space for cultural initiatives by initiating and coordinating events and residence/research projects worldwide.â€ He enlightens META on plastic in Plastic Reef.
Swedish photographer ULRIKA WALMARK (1970) traveled across North America, Israel, Palestine, Iran, India and South Africa from 2003 to 2007, collecting portraits for her project The person behind the person. She now lives in Berlin.
Artist CHEN WEI (1980) works in Beijing and Hangzhou, incorporating influential objects and happenings from his past into the realities of modern China. He is represented by the Platform China Contemporary Art Institute in Beijing. See Archeology of the Future.
V.i.S.d.P. Rachel de Joode
Eberswalderstrasse 32, 10437 Berlin, Germany
0049 (0) 17662109849
All materials on META magazine are made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights belong to the author(s). Links to third-party websites are provided only as a convenience to you.
The inclusion of any link to third-party website does
not imply META magazineâ€™s endorsement or sponsorship of
that third-party website. META disclaims any liability for links to and from the Site. The input of contact data takes place voluntarily. The use of published contact details for marketing purposes is prohibited.
|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|Daughters of Job|
|Death of a Performance|
|Out of Control: Experiments in Participation|
|Terra Pretaâ€”Amazonian Earth|
|A New Computer Science is Underway|
|Claude Cahunâ€”A Sensual Politics of Photography|
|The Clothing of Nature|
|On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai|
|Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites|
|The Body of the Event|
|Sentenced to Read|
|Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia|
|XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King|
|Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle|
|The Art of Showing Art|
|Photography and the Invisible|
|Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated|
|Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine|
|Desperate Times, Desperate Measures|
|A Bridge and Not a Goal|
|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|The Poetry of Document|
|Stories of Life and Love in Todayâ€™s Actual Arctic|
|Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena|
|The Nine Lives of Kaufhaus Jonass|
|The Harmony of the Spheres|
|Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project|
|Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry|
|The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid|
|Welcome to Nollywood|
|Chronicle of Deaths Foretold|
|The Dostoevsky of Photography|
|Archeology of the Future|
META drove out to Dwingeloo, in northern Holland, to learn about the beginning of the Universe on a visit to ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Here, developments in astronomical research and instruments have taken place since 1949, when operations were begun by Jan Hendrik Oort, the unrivaled father of Dutch radio astronomy. Word of Oklahoman physicist Karl Janskyâ€™s discovery of radio emission from the center of the Milky Way reached Oort post-WWII, fuelling his already burning questions on the structure of the Universe.
The search continues at ASTRON, spurring on radio astronomy as well as the design of instruments for use in other of the worldâ€™s most advanced telescopes, such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT) Project. This aptly named largest optical telescope in the world is located in Chileâ€™s Atacama Desert. Currently at ASTRON, a project is underway which observes astronomical objects so far away that their radio signals were emitted just after the Big Bang. By digitizing these signals and using software which emulates a conventional antenna, the new LOFAR telescope eliminates the need for expensive moveable parts and makes the leap, in essence, toward becoming an IT telescope. The goal is to establish direct Internet connection for remote and widespread operation by groups of scientists around the world, each controlling their own software telescope while sharing the same hardware. LOFAR will continue the work of understanding of the Universeâ€™s source, but will also provide unique insights into magnetic storms on the Sun and solar wind, and their effect on Earthâ€™s climate.
META went to the core of LOFAR where Marchel Gerbers showed us around. Here we immediately realized that despite the astonishing observational revelations promised by the LOFAR telescope, it exists on a rather underdressed, unspectacular looking site. In this large, flat Dutch landscape, we encountered a series of sticks clustered together, or LBAâ€™s (Low Band Antennas), next to large plastic squares, or HBAâ€™s (High Band Antennas). These are interspersed with little grey cabinets. Mr. Gerbers cheerfully filled us in on complex computer science and the occasional deer attack on LOFAR, as well as anecdotes of mice living underneath the antennasâ€™ plastic foil or the worst of LOFARâ€™s enemies: the beech marten.
The projectâ€™s contrasting down-to-earth simpatico and the hard to fathom data it seeks to recordâ€”the starting point of the Universeâ€”were harmoniously united on a gorgeous first day of spring, early in the earth year 2010. We talked with Dr. Michiel P. van Haarlem, Director of LOFAR, who discussed star clustering, radio waves, the Universe and Frank Zappa.
META: Concerning the LOFAR project, what is the best result that could be reached? What is the ultimate goal?
Michiel P. van Haarlem: To produce fantastic observations, to discover things, to improve results. We are trying to build a telescope that can do things that no other telescope has done before. We are trying to observe our Universeâ€™s first stars and galaxies. We are trying to discover things, and we actually have no idea what they are. We are trying to discover radio waves produced by cosmic rays. These are things that have never been done and we expect to gain a complete new insight.
Why do humans want to know how big the Universe is? What is the sense of gaining this knowledge? Where does this urge come from?
Actually, you should ask me why people want to know more about the Universe.
Sorry, my question is fundamental. I would like to know why we humans need to know the size of the Universe. Why do we need a defined border? Why do we want to know these facts, and where does this urge come from?
Sorry, I donâ€™t think astronomers are really interested in the questions of whether the Universe is eternal or why. I believe we are more interested in â€œhow does it work?â€ Itâ€™s just like having a puzzle or some strange device on your desk in front of you and you try to find out how it works by looking at it or turning it over or listening to it. Nobody has told you anything about it, and you try to find out â€œwhat does it do?â€ Well, itâ€™s the same with the Universe. We live in it, we are confronted with it on a daily basis, we know a little bit, but definitely not everything, and we try to find out â€œhow is it put together,â€ â€œhow did it evolve,â€ and â€œwhat will happen in the future?â€
As a scientist, one tries to discover a certain system in the whole. And, well, then you discover that the Universe is gigantic, and what we in astronomy deal with is the past. The distances of the signals that we observe are traceable to billions of years ago. This is because it takes light time to travel through the galaxy to reach us. So, the farther away we observe, the further back we go into the past. This means that the bigger the Universe is, the further into the past we can observe. We cannot observe the same galaxy at different ages, say, when it is one billion years old and also when it is 2, 3, 4, 5 billion years old. But we can look at different galaxies at different distances (different ages) in order to see changes. And then, you actually see great variations because stars grow and cluster into a big lump of stars to form galaxies (our own galaxy, known as the Milky Way). Well, when you look way back, all of this hadnâ€™t existed yet.
So you are not interested in the size but in the age of the Universe?
Indeed, we use size, but we are interested in time.
But, I thought your focus with LOFAR was the size of the Universe.
Well there are two distinct moments. The first one is the cosmic microwave background radiation. This was discovered in the 1960s, and this is a border that we cannot cross by observation. This happened a very, very long time ago. Wellâ€¦uhâ€¦ the Universe was very hot once and then it started cooling down, and the echo of this process is something that we can see in the form of a radiation that measures 3 Kelvin. This is 3 degrees above absolute zero or minus 270 degrees Celsius. Back then, the Universe was very homogenous, as we can see from observations, but there were very, very small disruptions, which were caused by gravity. Well, these disruptions began what would eventually form the very first stars. And what happened after this is the period that we will be observing now; itâ€™s the moment the Universe became transparent again. Because it was extremely hot and then cooled down, this cooling down process created a lot of gas, like a thick mist that you cannot see through. Well, these gasses finally started to congeal, and this was the starting point of the first stars. Well, these first stars triggered the Universeâ€™s heating up again, and because of this heating up process, the gas ionized. This basically means that those gasses are still there, but have been modified into another form, a form which one can easily look through. So the moment in which everything becomes visible is the exact moment that we will be observing with the LOFAR telescope.
Iâ€™m curious; can you let me hear the sounds of this cosmic microwave background radiation?
No, there is so little energy in this radiation. It was once calculatedâ€¦ I donâ€™t know how this is exactly done, but when you observe radio waves for years and years with a radio telescope, the energy you actually capture is about equal to that produced by lighting a match. The energy that is involved here is very, very little. Radio telescopes are extremely sensitive. The Dwingeloo Telescope that we have here or the ones in Westerbork are cooled down to very low temperatures in order to make them extra sensitive to the signals they receive. Then what we do is, we mix the signals they receive with other signals in order to enhance them, and then this final outcome signal is digitized. With the new LOFAR telescope, we will digitize the signals directly, like attaching a microphone to a computer. This makes receiving a simple first step and from there on everything is digital.
What would you say has been ASTRONâ€™s most significant discovery?
The 14 dishes at our Westerbork location were pioneers in the discovery of dark matter. Westerbork examines higher radio waves; for example, that of hydrogen gas. Because hydrogen gas is a spectral lineâ€”a line that only exists at a certain frequency waveâ€”it is possible to detect the speed of the hydrogen gas broadcasting this radio wave. And what you can do with this is, you can look at galaxies such as ours. You will see that the stars in those galaxies move circularly, and then you can measure the speed at which the gas circles around the center of such a galaxy. Then you use the amount of light of the galaxy as an indicator of how heavy it should be. With this, we discovered that based on the amount of light, there should actually be more visible matter than there is; we found that light doesnâ€™t equal the amount of matter. This is basically the whole story of dark matter, and our telescopes in Westerbork made a pioneering contribution to this study and to the theory of black holes. The knowledge of how dark matter works was actually attained with the use of these telescopes.
Actually, radio astronomy is a very young science, isnâ€™t it?
Yes indeed. Radio astronomy really started after World War II. The first observations were made in the 30s, coincidentally at the same area where we are now researching. But it really scientifically started after WWII. Hollandâ€™s first radio telescope had formerly been used in the War for detecting radar signals...
â€¦and then they coincidentally also received other waves?
Well, actually, yes. After the War they rebuilt it, and it was used to receive radio waves. In the 50s they started building the telescope located here: the Dwingeloo 25m radio telescope.
The most significant discovery of your private career?
Well, uh, I havenâ€™t made any groundbreaking astronomical discoveries. I used to research the clustering of galaxies, or the way in which galaxies cluster together. When a galaxy develops, through gravity actually, everything is sucked into that galaxy. This collection actually grows constantly. This is what I was researching. The result of my work contributed to the current knowledge of how clusters of galaxies are built.
Is the Universe endless? Is it infinite?
Uhmm, what is endless?
Endless is something which has no border.
Or does endless mean that you can walk forever? Just imagine thereâ€™s a flea on a ball and it walks and walks and walks eternally on that ball without there being any borders. Only we, from the outside, can observe this flea, and in our perception this ball is small and is not infinite.
But this flea, for example, doesnâ€™t know that it passes the same spot every time he completes the ball, so he walks in circles. We humans can perceive things like this, so I am not too sure about this comparisonâ€¦
Well, what I am trying to say is that the dimension in which you perceive will determine whether something is endless. We live in 3-dimensional space; this flea lives in 2-dimensional space. But what if you add the 4th dimension of time? Then, you start looking at the matter of endless or eternal very differently. It is a very difficult matter to grasp. In fact, the Universe is not eternal, because there is a point at which everything was one, and this point was, in fact, not so long ago. 14 billion years ago. Everything that is now the Universe was together at one point.
Well, this is bizarre and there is a common difficulty in really imagining this. It is simply inconceivable. But this mystery is the most exiting thing about the science of astronomy. It is, in fact, a science that creates our world-view. Look at the influence of astronomy on our world-view during Classical antiquity, the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. The perception of our place in the Universe has always had huge social or cultural consequences.
What do you think about CERN and the research being done there? Is there a parallel that can be drawn?
Absolutely. But there is a big difference. In astronomy, there is one lab: the Universe. Here you cannot interfere, you cannot experiment, you can only observe. The Sun ordains whether or not it shows its sunspots or how they move or how visible they are. We canâ€™t say to the Sun, â€œWo, stop, go back, do that again with those sunspots!â€ At CERN they can do things like that. This is a huge difference. CERN is possibly the largest experiment in which they can really control what they observe. In astronomy, we can calculate, observe, and predict, but never can we say: â€œletâ€™s redo this observation.â€ What they do at CERN and what we do are things that we would like to bring together in a larger model. We try to clarify the Universe from the smallest atoms to the larger scales and, well, everything turns out to be connected. When you go back to the source, there are very high energies involved, and this is what CERN is researching at the moment.
Would you like to add anything regarding LOFAR?
Yes I would. When you start a project like this, it is very hard to find money. When we started building LOFAR, we discovered we could also attach other sensors to our network, so at many locations we also have geophones installed, as well as ultrasound wave detectors, which can measure the vibrations in the air. All this information is sent through our network. It is separated from our own observations, of course, as well as from all of the astronomical results. But, basically we are building an observatory for astronomy and, on a smaller scale, one for geophysics and ultrasound waves. So, we serve three sciences with one device. This is more appealing to financial investors.
Do you believe in magic?
I donâ€™t know what magic is.
Magic is something unexplainable, like a magic trick.
I donâ€™t believe in magic. Magic is a good trick, but as a scientist you try to discover what it is that was fooling with youâ€¦
What is your favorite music?
Favorite astronomy jargon?
Serendipity: things which unexpectedly appear without knowing upfront what was going to happen. A discovery by accident. You are searching for something, but the thing that comes to you accidentally will also play a major role.
And whoâ€™s your most inspiring scientist?
Favorite kind of celestial object?
If the Universe had a marked smell, what would it be?
â€¦Ohâ€¦never ever thought about thisâ€¦I think the smell of a misty day. A certain smell, moist and cold.
SITU STUDIO is a reserach, design and fabrication firm based in Brooklyn. Their space-altering, site-specific architectural installation reOrder augurated the Great Hall project in the Brooklyn Museum. For reOrder and other projects, see Situâ€™s website.
Go there now