String Theōros: String theory art

16 artists recognized at National Hellenic Museum for outdoor art exhibit

scientiquity, terry poulos, science, antiquity, physics, string theory, art, sculpture, greektown, painted lyre, chicago
String Theōros on Halsted Street in Chicago

By Terry Poulos, Scientiquity founder and polymath artist

[CHICAGO, IL USA; 07/02/2022] Scientiquity artist Terry Poulos along with 15 other artists were recognized at the National Hellenic Museum during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held this past Thursday announcing this year’s annual Greektown outdoor art exhibit, titled “The Painted Lyre.” The lyre is a stringed instrument dating back to ancient classical Greece which was played similar to a harp or guitar.

Poulos, who creates art under the Scientiquity brand (the science of antiquity), submitted “String Theorōs,” which is intended to educate on the basic tenets of String Theory in theoretical physics. String Theory for the past 30 years has been one of the most studied and well-funded potential so-called “theories of everything.”

One of 16 artists selected to paint the hollow, prefabricated fiberglass mold, Poulos has now been part of this exhibition – an annual affair- for six consecutive years. The art is designed to beautify the streets of Greektown Chicago, and provide thought-provoking works of art which brighten the daily commute for pedestrians and hopefully bring patrons to the neighborhood. The various pieces line Halsted Street in downtown Chicago between Van Buren on the south and Madison on the North.

String Theorōs features a hybrid blend of musical symbols along with various equations and symbols used in physics.

scientiquity, terry poulos, science, antiquity, physics, string theory, art, sculpture, greektown, painted lyre, chicago
Reverse side of String Theōros

On the flip side, there is an image of Pythagoras of Samos, an ancient Greek philosopher who legend has it founded a secretive cult of scientists and mathematicians who strongly believed that all truth can be found through mathematics. And that math and geometry (including the right triangle and Pythagorean theorem on the sculpture) underlie the entire structure of the universe.

Moreover, these early theorists were adamant that specific ratios held mystical powers, such as the spacing of the musical tones on stringed instruments that represented the notes a third or a fifth, for two examples. These notes, it turns out, are indeed most pleasing to the human ear, and the Pythagoreans – almost religious-like – thought they were sacred.

As for music, in physics, when sound reverberates through the medium of air particles, it creates a type of vibration, what scientists call a “resonance.” This phenomenon is related to electrons and the force of electromagnetism. On the sculpture, Poulos represents this from the redshift wavelength (a motorcycle’s wailing sound tailing off as it moves away from the observer) to the blue end of the spectrum (volume increasing as the motorcycle moves toward the observer). Poulos attempts to portray this action by painting a rainbow on the lyre’s strings, a metaphorical full “color” electromagnetic spectrum. Furthermore, the artist depicts various equations put forth by James Clerk Maxwell, who formalized the equations of electromagnetism.

Also appearing on the sculpture is a widespread artistic theoretical interpretation of a so-called Calabi-Yau manifold, the alleged six hidden dimensions of string theory which are claimed to be so compact and found at energies far too large to be detectable by our current high-energy particle accelerators. As string theorists are fond of saying, the math works and all four forces – electromagnetism, the strong and weak forces, and gravity – are unified in 10 dimensions.

However, the proof for string theory – or superstring theory and supersymmetry – has yet to be exhibited in empirical experimentation. For now, all we know of are the three familiar spacial dimensions (latitude, longitude, altitude for simplification) along with the additional configuration or coordinate of time. 4 + 6 (Calabi-Yau) = 10. Then there’s 11 dimensions in M-Theory and 26 in Bosonic String Theory. We’ll leave those for another post.

Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity informed us of the three spacial and one time dimension and the curvature of space. By dimension, he meant four degrees of configuration, and that space and time were integrated, inseparable. With this knowledge, Poulos decided no theory of resonating strings (as an ultimate theory of everything) would ever be complete without folding in Einstein’s famous equation for energy/mass equivalence, that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Einstein’s most famous equation for gravity (the geometrical bending of spacetime) is also depicted on the painting.

Related images are from Sir Isaac Newton’s 2nd Law, the force/mass and acceleration equivalence, that force equals mass times acceleration. The artist further includes Leonhard Euler’s famous “Euler’s identity,” often called “the most beautiful of all equations.” The constant, infinite number E is used heavily in economics to compute compound interest, for one example. It’s approximately 2.71…, and when raised to the power of i (the imaginary unit, commonly the square root of -1) times Pi (3.14…), plus 1, equals zero.

It takes a bit of contemplation to figure out, but in mathematics the equation has not really been challenged and it’s thought to be one of the most insightful and profound statements in all of mathematics. Such a truth surely must be related to any theory of everything (which string theory purports to be), and with that in mind the artist included it on the sculpture.

scientiquity, terry poulos, science, antiquity, physics, string theory, art, sculpture, greektown, painted lyre, chicago
Halsted Street cityscape. Side view of sculpture with Psi, the Greek letter used to symbolize the famous Schroedinger Wave Function in physics

Poulos also saw fit to include hTz, the symbol for Hertz, the unit of measurement for frequency and sound. String theory operates under the presumption that these tiny strings create matter and light by means of varying frequencies, angles of integral, and whether the strings are open or looped close.

There are also glyphs of waves painted under the hTz symbol, reminiscent of the famous Schroedinger wave function, represented by the Greek letter Psi painted on the two sides of the sculpture. The wave function gives observational probabilities for the potential outcome of a quantum event. The copper color on the side runs downward, creating the appearance of waves of paint. More precisely, electromagnetic waves.

If you look really close, you’ll see the Greek letter Lambda which is used in physics to convey the Cosmological Constant, the rate of expansion of the universe alleged to be driven by dark matter, in addition to the symbol for the Planck Constant, which serves a dual purpose concerning the smallest possible emission of energy from light quanta, and is also used as a unit for the smallest possible distance in a spacial measurement.

scientiquity, terry poulos, science, antiquity, physics, string theory, art, sculpture, greektown, painted lyre, chicago
Inside the museum’s Calamos Hall. The event was covered by ABC7 Chicago, among other media outlets

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by a host of dignitaries, including Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, Water Reclamation District Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos, Township Committeman Dean Maragos, and Consul General of Greece in Chicago Emmanuel Koubarakis. Also appearing were Marianne Vallas Kountoures (museum executive director), Anthony Caputo (Chairman of the Greektown Special Service Area #16 which sponsors the art exhibits), President of Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation Irene Koumi, and business owner Eve Moran, an arts patron who serves as director of the Greektown arts project and whom has conceived of the various themes employed for the street art exhibitions.

scientiquity, terry poulos, science, antiquity, physics, string theory, art, sculpture, greektown, painted lyre, chicago
The presence of a live harp player added great atmosphere to the event. The harp is about the closest modern-day musical instrument to the ancient lyre

Scientiquity. All images and concepts herein © 2022

Published by Scientiquity

Polymath artist, scientific inquirer, fractal math researcher, archaeological historian, entrepreneur

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