Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Confluence of Physics And Dance

Ah yes, one of my favorite topics to ridicule! :)

Let's be honest here, I am NOT a fan of such "interpretive" dance that proclaim to somehow able to interpret some aspect of physics. When one understands a physics concept only superficially, and then one tries to demonstrate this visually, the result is often either hilarious, or downright puzzling. I've already criticized such attempts in previous blog entries (read here, here, here, and here). So there's nothing that I will say in this one that I haven't said before.

But still, it is worth repeating how ridiculous this all sounds. A dance titled "The Matter of Origins" has been performed as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Wait till you hear what this dance is all about. It's the doozy!

"Matter of Origins" explores that moral paradox, along with a technical one involving the nature of physical matter. If reality consists of tiny particles, how is it we don't fall through objects containing millions of gaps--a question raised by a contemporary physicist and his wife lying in bed in a scene projected on the work's giant curved screens, where images of the galaxy and the particle collider in Europe are also telecast.

Much of the dancing explores affinities between art and physics. A group approaches the front of the stage, the line of dancers moving their outstretched limbs together in a way that evokes the long debate about light--is it particles or waves? One sequence involves a woman and three men who keep moving a chair away from her--a blunt but keen illustration of the Uncertainty Principle.
Now people, c'mon! I dare you to either read that, or sit through something like that with a straight face! This is really some seriously funny crap here! That thing with the chair to illustrate the HUP. That is too hysterical! You can't make this up!

It is too bad that we can't introduce science, and physics in particular, directly to the people without having to go through such "interpretation". One can only wonder what the average public actually learn from viewing something like this. I hate to think that the HUP is now being depicted as a really bad game of musical chair!


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