KSJ Tracker September 25, 2012

Dennis Overbye finds black holes--in Chelsea!

JPL: A black hole at the center of a galaxy

The cosmos is the playground of New York Times writer Dennis Overbye, who roams far and wide in his search for news of such things as dark matter, dark energy, strings, and black holes. 

In Tuesday's New York Times science section, he reports that he seems to have found them--in an art gallery in Chelsea, on New York City's far west side.

Beginning with a quote from the Beatles ("Got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see"), Overbye reports that the artist Shea Hembrey has created a collection of paintings and sculptures that he (Hembrey, not Overbye) calls "a collective meditation on the unseen structure of our universe."

"The show features black holes--including one that looks like a bottomless bird's nest of meticulously glued straw--and metaphorical models of the cosmos elegantly assembled from burnt cork, moonstones, guinea feathers, and a sheet of lead inscribed with intricate cosmic doodles," Overbye writes. And this:

Mr. Hembrey likes to refer to an old Russian description of darkness as “so filled with something that there is no room for light,” or, in the words of the Latvian writer Anita Vanaga, “darkness as inpenetrable multitude that blots out the light.”

Dark matter now apparently belongs to all of us, scientist, citizen, and artist alike. It has, as a metaphor, "escaped its astronomical origins," Overbye writes.

Take a look. It's a delightful piece. 

-Paul Raeburn

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