Washboards and Cracked Eggs

We are very grateful to Stephen Morris who heads the Nonlinear Physics Lab at the University of Toronto for allowing us to use the colorful image you see here.

The photograph was taken by  Seabrooke Leckie.  Stephen’s lab researches the nonlinear physics behind pattern formation. He investigates the formation of patterns that we often see but don’t think about. For example, he recently  did some interesting experimental research into how washboards form on roads. It’s always fun walking with Stephen.He will point out patterns around you that you may not ordinarily stop to think about . I was thinking it would be interesting to have a contest and have people guess what the above image is, but it would be too easy to just look it up on Stephen’s Flicker Site.  When I first saw it, I thought the photo  was  an eye from a reptile or bird. Turns out the image is a dried up egg.  Stephen explains the creation of the pattern:

“The cracks are radial because they aligned perpendicular to the retreating drying front. Drying causes shrinkage, which produces stresses which make cracks when they exceed the strength of the material.”

Subtle Technologies held a workshop in Stephens lab a few years ago. Nine artists who work with different materials, from video to ceramics , spent  a weekend in the lab. Although these artists work in different genres,  they all work with patterns in some way in their art. There are a couple of pictures from the workshop below. You can see more here.

I’m looking forward to seeing Stephen’s  presentation at this years festival.

Artists Looking at Nonlinear Chemical Reaction

Belousov–Zhabotinsky Reaction Artists are Viewing

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