Joint Explorations: Architecture, Dance, and Physics

Rebecca Williamson, Assistant Professor of Architecture
Linda Lehovec, Assistant Professor of Dance
George Gollin, Professor of Physics
Julius Rascheff, Associate Professor of Art and Design

Are the boundaries between the static and the dynamic...

...firmly drawn, inflexible, unchanging? Are the arts and sciences profoundly disconnected, without a common language? Students in Architecture 372: "Construction and Movement; an Interdisciplinary Studio" are actively investigating these issues under the supervision of faculty members Rebecca Williamson (Architecture) and Linda Lehovec (Dance), with participation by George Gollin (Physics) and Julius Rascheff (Art and Design).

A charette concerning architecture, dance, and matter-antimatter annihilation:

Representations of collisions between high energy electrons and positrons (anti-electrons) were used by Arch 372 students as a starting point in an investigation of space, movement, and scales of size.

The physics...

Modern physics is stranger than one can possibly imagine: take a look at George Gollin's presentation at the start of the charette.

CLEO is an elementary particle physics experiment taking place at Cornell University's CESR electron-positron collider. The collaboration includes a group from the Department of Physics here at UIUC. The CLEO experiment studies the physics of high energies and small distances; we hope to better understand the origins of matter, and the interplay between matter and energy, through our research.

We make our own antimatter. Positrons are anti-electrons: we make several trillion of them, and steer (and focus) them into a particle beam moving at nearly the speed of light. The beam orbits inside a vacuum pipe which is bent into a circle 800 feet in diameter. We inject a beam of electrons into the same vacuum pipe, but traveling in the opposite direction. Thousands of times per second, an electron in one beam is annihilated by a positron in the other beam in a brief, violent, head-on collision. The collision is so violent that objects as massive as ten protons can emerge from this flash of matter-antimatter annihilation. As the quarks, antiquarks, photons, neutrinos,... emerge from the explosion, they yank other quarks and antiquarks into existence, turning their own kinetic energy into new matter. By the time the newly formed plasma of stuff is the size of a proton, it has jelled into particles which may live for picoseconds, nanoseconds, or microseconds, (or for billions of trillions of trillions of years) before decaying. Usually, nearly everything leaving the annihilation is traveling close to the speed of light. A tenth of a billionth of a second later, the debris from the collision (a variety of stable and unstable particles) has passed through the walls of the vacuum pipe, entering the CLEO detector. Instrumentation registers the ionization trails left by charged particles as they travel through the magnetic field of the apparatus. A few billionths of a second later, particles leave (or are stopped in) the detector. Information, recorded on tape, is processed later to learn the identities and kinematic properties of the objects produced in the collisions. By studying the relative rates at which different interactions are found to occur, we can test our understanding of the dynamics of physics at very small distances.

... the images...

Some CLEO "zoo events" to be interpreted by Architecture 372 students:

... and interpretations.

Groups comprising one dancer and several architects realized interpretations of CLEO event pictures. Here are some photos of students at work (typically 30kb):

April, 2000 Loomis Laboratory of Physics Installation and Event:

An Architecture 372 installation in the highly functional, thoroughly ordinary, Loomis Laboratory of Physics will make users of Physics Department facilities more aware of the bulding spaces they use every day. (Pictures are JPEG's, typically 165 kbytes each.)

Discussions with Greg Larson, Physics Department Facilities Manager...

Trying out some ideas for the installation...

The projects:

April 8 performance at Loomis:

Our 15 minutes of fame:

More as it happens...


send us email:  Rebecca Williamson, Linda LehovecGeorge Gollin, Julius Rascheff