Gravity: the dance of space and time

Jan 31 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Our solar system is in a sparsely populated part of our galaxy and thus, fortunately for us, encounters with stars are rare and distant. However other regions in the Universe, like the center of our galaxy, are more crowded: they are packed with stars that either orbit each other or a central massive black hole. In the vicinity of heavy objects in fast motion, space and time do not behave in the way we are familiar with; rather, they behave as a single dynamical entity, space-time, such that its fabric stretches, twists, torques and even vibrates like the membrane of a drum, giving off the "sounds" of the Universe in the form of gravitational waves.
Around these subjects of cutting edge research a dialogue has been established between a couple of enthusiastic scientists and a curious, inspired community of artists: the result is "Gravity", a dance show that has recently been performed at the University of Maryland. Take a look at its recorded video and stay tuned for some more detail on the blending of physics with dance.

Gravity: the dance of space and time

Choreography: Adriane Fang
Costume Design: Kate Fulop
Projection Design: Andrew Kaufman
Lighting Design: Paul D. Jackson
Performers: Star Cluster: Jennifer Alcott, Chelsea Brown, Christina Camacho, Ellen Clark, Kayla Coutts, Katie Gundlach, Rachel Mucha, Nicole Turchi
Gravity Grads: Robin Neveu-Brown, Erin Crawley-Woods, Jessie Laurita-Spanglet, Nicole Y. McClam, Megan Morse-Jans, Lynne Price

This work was created in collaboration with Professor Cole Miller of the Astronomy Department and Doctor Umberto Cannella of the Physics Department. Special thanks to Laurie Frederik Meer and James Forsberg for their valuable input.

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Evolution in Dance

Apr 05 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

One of the great things about blogging on Tumblr is the built-in “Ask” box function that lets other users submit questions or comments and allows the author to publish responses or reply in private. It really puts the “community” in “Most of the time the community asks me ridiculous things, but about ten percent of the questions are worth answering.”

Recently I spent a whole week answering some of the hundreds of questions I’ve gotten. Here’s one I saved for Scientopia:

Scientists use lots of methods to date things. Paleontologists calculate the decay of radioactive isotopes to help place fossils onto the geologic timeline. Climate scientists study the composition of atmospheric gases in ice cores drilled from deep beneath the polar regions.  Ecologists count rings in felled trees, and geologists probe through layers of rock to construct timelines of early Earth. But how do you date a modern Homo sapiens?

One easy way is to discern the last organized dance craze that they remember. Still stuck on “the twist”? Congratulations on figuring out the internet! (How does this look on Internet Explorer 5?) Maybe you’re more of an “Electric Slide” era person. You’re probably worried about maturing that 401(k). “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” or “Macarena” make us yearn for the simplicity of the Clinton years, while the “Cupid Shuffle” brings us into the modern, rules-be-damned era of “Is grandma really doing that?”

If you know the next one, you’re officially pretty hip. A reader asked:

What’s the scientific explanation behind the “Dougie”?

Good question. Continue Reading »

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