September 30, 2015

Gaudi Circles

Circular ceiling mosaic (detail) by Antoni Gaudi, Parc Guell, Barcelona.

Bench mosaic by Gaudi.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 29, 2015

Gyroid Climber

Climbable gyroid structure, Exploratorium, San Francisco.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 28, 2015

Faulty Faculty

Who gets the faulty offices?

Photo by I. Peterson

September 27, 2015


Centerpeace (detail) by Linda Howard, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 26, 2015

Artwall in Steel

Artwall marks the eastern boundary of Tanner Springs Park in Portland, Oregon. Designed by Herbert Dreiseitl, it consists of 368 reclaimed railroad tracks standing on end.

View of Artwall from the park's wetland expanse.

Boardwalk view of Artwall.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 25, 2015

Solomon's Knot

Depiction of Solomon's knot in a mosaic from a border surrounding a large courtyard in a 3rd century house in Antioch, Baltimore Museum of Art.

Photo by I. Peterson

September 24, 2015

Greenhouse Geometry

East Conservatory (Azalea House). Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, 1978.

Photo by I. Peterson

September 23, 2015

Education in Stained Glass

Washington Memorial Chapel, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Photo by I. Peterson

September 22, 2015

Stone Test Wall

Portion of the stone test wall at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, as it appeared in 1985.

The stone test wall, more than 12 feet high and 37 feet long, is made up of 2,352 stone samples. The wall was originally constructed in 1948 at the NBS site in Washington, D.C. It was moved to its present location in 1977.

By the mid-1980s, some samples, especially sandstones, were beginning to crumble, crack, or flake away. Many limestones developed a surface texture showing fossil fragments.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 21, 2015

Seven Numbers

Curiously named neighborhood restaurant in Toronto.

This restaurant, at 516 Eglinton Avenue West, is one of two branches, both named 7 Numbers, but one is 2113407 and other is 2047409. Each number happens to be the seven-digit Ontario corporation number issued by the Ministry of Government Services to any business paying taxes in the province.

2113407 = 3 x 3 x 43 x 43 x 127.
It happens to have two factors in common with its address number: 516 = 2 x 2 x 3 x 43.

2047409 = 7 x 13 x 149 x 151.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 20, 2015

Golden Gate Sunset

Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge, California, December 1979.

Photo by I. Peterson

September 19, 2015

AIM Mural

A colorful mathematical mural by Vanessa Rios marked the entry to the former home of the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) in Palo Alto, California.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 18, 2015

Orrery Clockwork

The mechanical models of the solar system known as orreries were concrete expressions of the popular 18th-century belief that the universe behaves like a well-regulated clock.

Photo by I. Peterson

September 17, 2015

Three Bells

Eastern Orthodox churches often have a set of three bells outside the main building, which play a role in various traditional religious practices. The three bells shown, each one a different size to produce a different tone, are at Vardzia, a cave monastery site in southern Georgia.

Bells at Jvari Monastery, Mtskheta, Georgia.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 16, 2015

Pulse Spiral

Pulse Spiral was an interactive artwork by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, on display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco during 2014.

The installation consisted of 300 incandescent light bulbs arranged in a spiral paraboloid.

Sensor handles beneath the towering array of light bulbs detected a user's heartbeat, and software translated this signal into rhythmic flashes, with signals from successive users moving up the spiral.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 15, 2015

Temari Ball Symmetry

Temari-ball design based on the cuboctahedron, with octahedral symmetry, created by Carolyn Yackel.

Temari is a folk art form that originated in China and was later introduced to Japan. A Temari ball is constructed from a spherical core wrapped in yarn, then decorated with colored threads to create geometrical patterns on its surface.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 14, 2015

Snelson's Atom

Artist and inventor Kenneth Snelson has proposed his own model of the atom. This eight-magnet example is one of a series of small geometric figures, dubbed magnet circlespheres, made up of equal-diameter magnets to illustrate his concept of an atom's electronic structure. When one magnet is turned by hand, the rest follow like a circular chain of gears.

Another Snelson magnet-based geometric model.

Kenneth Snelson in his Manhattan studio, Fall 2011.

For examples of Snelson's tensegrity sculptures, see "Needle Tower" and "Tensegrity Tower in New Orleans."

Photos by I. Peterson

September 13, 2015

Restoring Lady Liberty

"Liberty Enlightening the World," New York, Fall 1986.

In Gustave Eiffel's  innovative design, a central pylon with a secondary framework reaches out to the Statue of Liberty's copper skin.

The copper sheets are attached to iron ribs in such a way that the skin is still free to shift slightly. Because of corrosion, the original ribs had to be replaced during the 1984-86 restoration of the Statue of Liberty with new stainless steel bars that were shaped to match the contours of the old bars.

The lighting scheme created for the refurbished Statue of Liberty was designed to capture the quality of natural daylight. In 2015, an LED-based lighting system was introduced.

The Statue of Liberty's original torch and flame, now on display in the Liberty Island museum, had to be replaced during the restoration because of extensive corrosion damage. Holes cut into the copper flame allowed moisture to leak into the statue's arm.

The Statue of Liberty at sunset, Fall 1986.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 12, 2015

River Glass

The Alcoa Corporate Center in Pittsburgh features an undulating glass facade that refers to the river and the city's glass industry, all framed in aluminum.

Photos by I. Peterson

September 11, 2015

Viral Symmetry

Model of an adenovirus emphasizing its icosahedral and hexagonal symmetries, Science Museum, London.

Photo by I. Peterson

September 10, 2015

Stonehenge Cycles

Constructed about 4,000 years ago on Salisbury Plain in southern England, Stonehenge stands as an astronomical monument. Alignments of various stones point to locations where the sun and moon rise at key times throughout the year.

The central avenue of Stonehenge points to the northernmost rising of the sun. At the summer solstice, observers can see the rising sun dramatically skim a large outlying marker known as the Heel Stone, framed by the monument's ancient pillars.

Heel Stone.

Stonehenge, Summer 1975. Photo by D. Kane.

Photos by I. Peterson