A brief post, since people are waiting for me to go to dinner. (Added a little to it after the fact…)

The image above comes from the website for Quark Park, a temporary park set up to highlight interactions between Princeton artists and scientists. The specific installation is called “Subduction & Orogeny,” illustrating geological processes at work. Interestingly, the work takes the form of a diagram, given added heft (so to speak) by samples of rock representative of the geological strata in question. Other works appear far more abstract.

An article in Science News describes some of the more mathematical installations, but there’s a wide variety of odds and ends to choose from on the website. Unfortunately, you have to shuttle back and forth between the “Photo Gallery” page and the “Team Bios” page (which links to descriptions of the projects) to figure out what’s going on.

Tom Wolfe noted that “without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting,” which is oddly true, for very different reasons, in this case as well. With this work, without the scientific theory, you can’t see the meaning. In fact, with a lot of visualization, one misses (or misinterprets) the meaning if you don’t get an explanation of the theory to go with it.

Quark Park is open through the end of November, so if you happen to live near Princeton, New Jersey, you might want to check it out.