LIVE FROM THE BIG BANG
These pictures and images combine both art and science
by Richard (Rick) deGaris Doble, M.A.C.


thumbnail cover, Experimental Digital Photography book by Rick DobleNEW BOOK!
Experimental Digital Photography by Rick Doble
A complete illustrated how-to guide (Sterling Publishing)

See Rick Doble's two other books by major publishers on digital photography
Career Building Through Digital Photography for high school students
Everything Digital Photography a general introduction


Read a graduate student review of this exhibit
by Madeleine Reade-Lyons, a student in the United Kingdom

100+ personal artistic images created directly from the radio waves, "cosmic microwave background radiation" or CMB, of the Big Bang.
These Big Bang signals are the echo or afterglow of the single event that created the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, the planet Earth and ourselves. This online exhibit seeks to help bridge the gap between art and science.
Latest NASA enhanced image of CMB
Latest NASA enhanced image of CMB
Rick Doble Big Bang Image
Image of mine somewhat similar to NASA

Another NASA image
(Angular power spectrum of the anisotropy
from the NASA Microwave Anisotropy Probe or MAP)

One of my images
using NASA's same palette of false colors





QUESTIONS:
What is the biggest event that ever happened?
What is 15 billion years old and still making waves today?
What is the mother of all explosions and the mother of us all?
If you answered "The Big Bang" to all of these, you are right on.

One of my goals as a contemporary artist has been to create connections with modern science. Now that the Big Bang has become an established theory, it is important that we (that is human beings who live on the planet Earth) realize that we are very much a part of this event.

As an artist I used many different techniques to bring out the organic patterns in these radio waves. I tried to remain true to the original imagery while using color and contrast to enhance the underlying structure. I have had a number of years experience doing this with other natural forms such as snowflakes. See the notes at the bottom. My goal was to create undulating patterns that revealed rich detail especially as I enlarged them.

Enlarging them was the most exciting discovery. I was able to blow up small portions and maintain a considerable level of fine detail. Just like the Universe itself these pictures contain worlds within worlds, each fascinating in itself.

I am hoping that seeing visual images such as these can help create a sense of connectedness, a realization that the distant Big Bang creation is not so distant after all because the echo and its radio waves still reverberate like a cosmological dance, a music of the spheres (as the ancient Greek Pythagoras proposed) that can be rendered in complex visual imagery.

I feel quite humble when looking at these beautiful, intricate, random organic patterns created from the start of the Universe. To me they feel like the "primal soup," the stuff from which life comes. One of the true mysteries of nature is how she repeats without repeating. And she does just that in these patterns.





SUPER STRINGS

NOTE: I wrote this poem in 1969 when I knew nothing about superstring theory, but had an advanced layman's knowledge of astronomy, physics and such stuff.


THE GENTLE WIND THAT BLOWS THROUGH ATOMS

the gentle wind
that blows through atoms
that curls and lies quiet
waits for a mind
to focus it
like burning sunlight
and penetrate
the weave of space




See these related essays:
The Beginning of Time
A Modern Creation Myth
I wrote this over 10 years ago. It is the story about the Big Bang and the evolution of the Universe told in the manner of an ancient myth and in simple language for children.

Thoughts About Art in the 21 Century
Written over five years ago, I proposed finding a way that art could help humans feel more connected to the world in which they live, to bridge the gap that has opened up between science/technology and the natural world.

===== WHY PATTERNS? =====

Life is made up of patterns from the blood cells in our veins, to traffic flow in a city, to cloud formations. All material is made up of microscopic patterns that show how that material is constructed and held together. And our lives over time are filled with patterns; from morning to evening we repeat and repeat day after day. Without these patterns life would not be possible.

Artists tend to avoid patterns except as a background. Patterns are often seen as being merely decorative, not to be taken seriously. Part of the reason is that manmade patterns are not as interesting as natural patterns since they repeat in a more predictable manner. Artistically we do not often look directly at patterns in and of themselves. In this exhibit I am asking viewers to do just that.





I have divided the exhibit into sections. In the beginning are overall patterns which progress gradually to greater and greater enlargements. In the next section I played with embossing to see if this technique would reveal structure in a different way which it often did. Last I included a number of ordered sequences where you can travel through these worlds frame by frame in your cyber space ship. The sequences go from large overall views to an extreme blowup of a tiny portion.

Please click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture.

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----- EMBOSSED IMAGES -----
...there were no mortal men until...Prometheus...formed them in the likeness of gods. He used clay and water...
The Greek Myths, by Robert Graves
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----- SEQUENCES -----
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QUOTATIONS

For nature is not merely present, but is implanted within things, distant from none; naught is distant from her...
The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the universe...
Giordano Bruno, Italian Philosopher, d. 1600
First modern thinker to conceive of an infinite and relative Universe filled with many worlds

All things, by immortal power,
Near or far,
Hiddenly
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling a star.
Francis Thompson (d. 1907), Oriental Ode

This principle of change or movement prevents nature from ever really repeating herself...
The History of Scientific Ideas - Charles Singer

At Cassis the stones, the fish...
they showed me eternity in the little waves of the harbor
which are always the same without being the same.
WOLS (European abstract painter, poet, photographer, d. 1951)

TECHNICAL NOTES

The radio signals received today that were produced by the Big Bang are technically defined as "cosmic microwave background radiation" or CMB which is an "isotropic radiation bath that permeates the entire Universe" meaning that it is found everywhere in the Universe.

While Nasa uses satellites for its CMB imagery, it is well established that ground based equipment can receive these signals. The problem then becomes how to separate the CMB from manmade interference. With homemade optimized equipment it is reasonable to estimate that my raw images contain as much as 30% CMB.

I created these images with a homemade receiver and a specially modified CRT that was designed to maximize the received radiation from the Big Bang and reduce manmade and Earth based interference.

I plan to keep tweaking my equipment to improve the reception and to reduce the amount of Earth created noise. I am hoping that future exhibits will feel even more organic. Stay tuned!

I further enhanced these images by adding "false colors" (a technique that NASA uses) with computer software and using other computer processes to bring out their beautiful and random structure.

   

LINKS TO BIG BANG WEB SITES

NASA
The First Detailed Full Sky Picture of the Oldest Light in the Universe.
http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_mm.html

ASTRONOMY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Perhaps the most conclusive (and certainly among the most carefully examined) piece of evidence for the Big Bang is the existence... of the "cosmic microwave background" (CMB).
http://www.astro.ubc.ca/people/scott/cmb_intro.html

NASA
Big Bang Cosmology - Miscellaneous
http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/acosmexp.html

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Footprints of Creation
http://archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Cyberia/Cosmos/Footprints.html

BBC NEWS
Viper telescope probes Big Bang 'echo'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/506349.stm

BERKELEY LAB SCIENCE BEAT
Harmonics In The Early Universe, The CMB Power Spectrum
The Universe May Be Flat But It Is Nevertheless Musical
Paul Preuss
I grant you that no sounds are given forth, but I affirm . . . that the movements of the planets are modulated according to harmonic proportions.
-- Johannes Kepler, 1619
Kepler's harmonic law of planetary motions owed more to geometry than to music, but the latest word on the cosmic microwave background (CMB) shows he would have been right about the universe as a whole.
When the universe sang
The peaks [in the cosmic microwave background radiation] indicate harmonics in the sound waves that filled the early, dense universe. Until some 300,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was so hot that matter and radiation were entangled in a kind of soup in which sound waves (pressure waves) could vibrate. The CMB is a relic of the moment when the universe had cooled enough so that photons could "decouple" from electrons, protons, and neutrons; then atoms formed and light went on its way.
http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/cmb-harmonics.html

BBC NEWS
By mapping tiniest temperature fluctuations in CMB, astronomers can "see" distribution of matter in early Universe.
Using a music analogy, last year we could tell what note we were seeing - if it was C sharp or F flat."
"Now, we see not just one, but three of these peaks and can tell not only which note is being played, but also what instrument is playing it - we can begin to hear in detail the music of creation."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1304666.stm

  

ART AND SCIENCE BACKGROUND OF
ARTIST RICHARD (RICK) deGARIS DOBLE, M.A.C.

I have a Masters Degree in Communications (M.A.C.) from the Department of Radio, TV and Motion Pictures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1975. While this helped with the technical aspects of capturing the Big Bang signal, my other interests and skills also made this exhibit possible.

I have been working toward imagery such as you see in this exhibit for a long time.

These Big Bang pictures are based in part on the snowflake images I created over six years ago. I added false color to these public domain black and white photos of snowflakes to bring out their structure. In a sense these Big Bang pictures are a continuation of that work - adding color to a natural image to bring out hidden aspects. My snowflake exhibit get tens of thousands of visitors a year such as from
CalTech University
http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/photos/photos.htm
and also Yahoo
http://dir.yahoo.com/Science/Earth_Sciences/Meteorology/
Weather_Phenomena/Precipitation/Snow/Snowflakes/

And the Maine Association of School Libraries
http://www.maslibraries.org/infolit/samplers/bentley.html
View the snow flake exhibit online.


In the mid-seventies I worked with a brilliant research doctor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who, among other things, discovered a new blood cell. He taught me to "stain" images to bring out their structure. "Stain is the name of the game," he told me.

My snowflake pictures in turn were based on the work I had done in the late 1980s with the black and white images of human beings in motion by Eadweard Muybridge. His comprehensive landmark scientific study of Human and Animal Locomotion was made in the late 1800s. These images are now in the public domain. I selected, cropped, enlarged and then added color with a computer to a number of his photographs. This work has been exhibited at several museums and published as well. For this project I invented my own imaging system using the Radio Shack Color Computer.

Personal Note:
At the age of eleven I bought a telescope, made a model of the solar system for a school project and began to learn the constellations. When I was thirteen I read George Gamow's book One, Two, Three... Infinity and as much as I could understand about Einstein's Theory of Relativity. In college I took a course in 20th century physics. I have done my best as a layman to keep up with the developments in astronomy since then.

===Patterns in Art
As an artist I have always been fascinated by complex patterns and have studied the paintings and drawings of Jackson Pollock and WOLS quite carefully. In 1970 I spent four days absorbing the wonderful and visionary designs that cover the walls of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. In addition I looked at Bentley's snowflakes for many years before I decided to add color to them. I also studied the intricate paintings of Paul Klee, the deluge and cloudburst drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, the woodcuts of Albrecht Durer and spent quite a few hours experimenting with moire patterns.




Go to my

Digital Visuals

site to see a full listing of my visual work
on the Internet.



Send me an e-mail message.
© Copyright 2003 by Richard deGaris Doble
All rights reserved.