Using Stellar Evolution to Generate Music Score: Part 1

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As part of our upcoming performance Our Star Will Die Alone, we wanted to generate a music score inspired by the actual evolution of a star as it evolves off of the main sequence – as it “dies” so to speak.  To generate this, we used an open source software package called MESA (Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics) developed by a team of astronomers and utilized by an extensive community of researchers, teachers and students to study how a star evolves with time (the code will be used in Adam’s undergraduate and graduate stellar astrophysics courses at UCSD this year).

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Notes from the 1st Deep Listening Conference


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On July 12-14th, in the impressive EMPAC center on the campus of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, the 1st International Conference on Deep Listening was held, and I (Adam) had the unexpected pleasure to present my ongoing Physics Gestures work at it.

 

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Dance-Physics Collaboration at Yale

We found a great example of another art-science collaboration being conducted at Yale University that resonates strongly with our goals.  Emily Coates (Dance) and Sarah Demers (Physics) have performed an exploration of the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson, the last particle of the standard model.  Collaboratively they have examined the gestures physicists use to describe the Higgs, developed aesthetic compositions from these, and reflected on how these compositions feeds back into the imaginations of scientists as they look to the next big problem in particle physics (which is likely to be the hypothetical dark matter particle).  Emily and Sarah have also taught a class, “The Physics of Dance“, and a book based on the course is in preparation

You can learn more about their project, Discovering the Higgs through Physics, Dance and Photography, at the Reintegrate website and the youtube video below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OwZ6TIDLJSA]

Gestural Physics Presentation at Audacious Speculations

The video for Adam’s presentation on his Gestural Physics idea can be watched on YouTube beginning at 1:10:10:

The Dance of Physics: Developing a Conceptual Language for Physics Through Physical Movement

As someone who teaches basic mechanics to hundreds of college students each year, I see again and again the frustration many students have in understanding and manipulating the symbolic constructions we use to describe motion, forces, particles, etc.  Beside standard mathematical notation (which is already challenging for many), the symbolic representation of physical quantities includes letters from both Latin and Greek alphabets, some of which are obvious to an English speaker (e.g., m for mass, F for force) and some of which are not (e.g., p for momentum, µ for the coefficient of friction), and none of which may be clear to someone accustomed to an Arabic or Chinese alphabet or spells mass as khối lượng (as the Vietnamese do).  There is also a fair deal of redundancy (e.g., g is used for both the surface gravity on Earth and for the mass unit of grams) that can lead to confusion. Most importantly, decoding this symbology draws mental energy away from understanding the underlying concepts, leading to the strange situation in which we end up teaching “concepts” and “problem solving” as distinct activities.  It is no wonder that most students decide Physics is just too hard.

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