Tag Archives: physics


Waving in the Mirror

In my last post, “Reflections on Light”, I mentioned that soon I’d be doing a sort of experiment with light boxes . . . trying different things with a raised mirror in a black box that I can fit over my scanner, and then try different scanning effects. I’m most intrigued by what happens when the light from the scanner goes up to the mirror and then reflects back to the scanner.

I didn’t think it would happen so soon, but I began my trial and error adventure yesterday. As luck or fate would have it, two days ago I found just the right beginner box! In what has become a monthly tradition, a couple of days ago I visited one of my favorite thrift shops. I do that when I drop my mother off for her haircut. While the shop is on the other side of the city, it’s only a few minutes from her hairdresser’s place. That gives me a solid, just-right half hour to browse. I often pick a little surprise, a treat, such as an art book or a movie. Yesterday I found a black wooden box, about 10 inches square (25 cm) on the open end, and just under 5 inches deep (12 cm). The bottom has a mirror in it, so when I rest the open end on my scanner . . . voila, my own little light box!

So $5 and a day later I began to play. I had to add a little duct tape to two ends to get a snug fit, enough to block out outside light during the scanning. Then I scanned a few objects, such as three twigs from my twig-loaded excuse of a yard. After trying a couple of other things, I felt a little disappointed . . . frankly the results have been mixed at best, but I’ve learned long ago what can become of an “ugly duckling” when it comes to this aspect of what I do. So basically right now I’m very optimistic!

Next I went back to my original curiosity, “What if I just scan the light from the scanner . . . the saved image would simply be of the scanning light, reflected back from the mirror.”

The results are intriguing. Here is that original scan, slightly cleaned up because of a few unavoidable specks of dust . . . by the way, I use a very basic 3-in-1 printer for my scanning . . . 300 dots per inch. It’s about as basic as one can get.

I’m much more used to extremely high quality scans, ones taken with a $500,000 Scitex system. That was back in my days of working with a wonderful graphic arts studio . . . my gardening catalog days. There’s no way Marvin and his crew would ever let me try this kind of stuff on that equipment . . . I have no idea whether the mirror will screw up the printer, but it’s not a big issue given the upside, creatively.

Anyways, here is a look at that image – the scanned light – it’s been enhanced to 500 dpi, though you only see it on here at 72 dpi.

Art project by Lawrence Grodecki

The first thing that struck me is the amount of color in there, in soft pastel shades. More on that in a bit . . . the other thing I’ve noticed is that the banding (vertical lines) are not exactly straight. I haven’t thought through the reason for this banding, but that can wait.

Instead, I just had to play with these colors, bring them out more, try a few effects. It started off well, though I had in mind that this would be only the start of a project that would months in the making. Most of my art takes anywhere from 30 to well over 100 hours, often spread over a period of 5 to 10 years. The difference is really in the amount of down-by-hand drawing and painting. In this project there is very little of that . . . these images below were created by using various reshaping and coloring tools . . . all really very basic, and time-intensive.

Now I”m going to show you a small series of intermediate renditions – for now I have 23 overall, but I’ve picked 6 for this post – here they are chronologically:

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Now this next image is what I consider a finished work or art, and a prized one at that, at least for me. I don’t say that out of arrogance, but out of a real belief that if one doesn’t see one’s own work as special or even precious, than how can that person expect others to see it that way? For me it’s a nice motto to live by.

So here it is, untitled for now. It’s odd how it came out in such relevance to that other post, Reflections on Light. There is what appears to be a window, but also a frame, which is very much like the part of the photograph at the bottom of that previous post. And the story in this picture below is very much a visual display of my musings in that other post. Keep in mind, all I intended to do is see how light reflects from a mirror to a scanner . . . and then doing some art without intent:

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Finally, it’s been a real pleasure doing a presentation-like post. Most of my art doesn’t lend itself to this kind of story-telling. As I mentioned before, most of my art is spread over several years and so many more hours, so documenting all of it like this is more than a little too much.

And I almost forgot, the feature image at the top, the bright abstract piece . . . that too is from this same first image of a scan of light.


Going Bananas Over Nuts and Apples

How about them apples? I don’t mean the ones for Halloween, just around the corner. Nor do I mean anything about new i-phones and such. I’m talking about gravity here, and eventually about floating apples.

I had my own Newton moment almost ten years ago, sitting near a tree and watching the squirrels at play, and then the cones falling to the ground. For some reason, Newton’s formula for gravity came to mind, as I was taught so long ago. It was an intrusive thought though, as it wasn’t equations that caught my attention in that Eureka moment . . . it was the time of release that got me thinking.

Oddly, it comes back to yet another thing that can’t be measured in nature, such as the precise time when an apple or cone begins it’s descent. In botany I learned a bit about energy in trees, and how with some of this energy the tree holds the apple to the tree. Eventually this energy is not enough to keep the fruit attached, and then it falls.

Just Before the Start of the Fall

That’s the part that fascinates me . . . that immeasurable moment within a moment . . . just before the start of that descent. It is then that the apple floats! There is no energy from the tree holding it back, and the draw of gravity has not yet begun . . . in between the two, the apple floats!

To help you get a better picture of what I’m saying, there is a pretty famous painting by Magritte called, The Son of Man, as shown below:

image of the Son of Man painting

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

If you want another visual idea, there’s always Bugs Bunny, especially those countless times where one character or another finds themselves floating . . . here’s just one example.

So for me this is all a comforting reminder of how little we know, in spite of all we think we know. I like that we don’t fully understand gravity. That way we don’t have a hope in hell of synthesizing it, bringing dead planets back to life, and repeating our mistakes somewhere else. When you think about, what really is the point of colonizing a planet that has no gravity, as we have on Earth? It all seems so unnatural, sad really.

Finally, I do believe there is something about love in every such magical, invisible moment, something that exists freely in nature, never to be contained.

For years I’ve thought of this with every naturally falling object, such as all the fruits and cones. Lately I’ve also become quite fascinated with the notion of the sky being full of water, even in the absence of clouds. Now – just last night, while thinking this post through – another thought came to mind. This magical moment within a moment, when apples float, it seems the same is true for every drop of water in the rain . . . and then there are snowflakes!

To end on a lighter note, now I’m wrestling with a bigger mystery. Out of all those raindrops that fall in a pond, I wonder which ones float!


Houston, I have a problem for you…


Standing on the Equator, compared to on the North Pole

About eight years ago I spent some time thinking about things, stuff like the earth moving around the sun. Don’t ask why, but it soon occurred to me that the earth could just as easily spin on its axis in a more or less fixed position, like a spinning top. Assuming that the sun is in a relatively fixed position, then this spinning top made as much sense as an annual ellipse around the sun. Oddly, it is simpler I suppose . . . less work?

Then there’s the other question, “Does the earth rotate at all?” I think about this stuff while I wonder about that other stuff . . . gravity. It struck me how remarkable it is that while a person stands in one place on the equator, they are moving at 1,670 km per hour. At the same time, someone standing on the exact north pole would basically be moving at .85 meters in a 24-hour day. That would be someone like me, with a shoe that measures 27 cm in length, so by standing there, the back of my shoes would move in one circular rotation in 24 hours, or about 0.85 meters, or about 3.39 centimeters per hour.

What’s really amazing, and curious, is how both people, and at the same time, would have the perception of standing still. I still wonder whether there is some kind of subtle perceptual difference between the two locations, even though I know that I’ll never really know the answer.

Standing in the airport, Winnipeg compared to Vancouver

For whatever reason, none that I know of, something odd occurred to me last night, so I did a little research this morning. This concerns flight times, flight patterns and such. For convenience I chose two cities to study. One is my hometown of Winnipeg and the other is Vancouver, B.C. – if you were to look at a map of Canada, you would see that both are basically very close to the 49th parallel.

There is a two-hour time difference between the two cities; Vancouver is two hours earlier than Winnipeg. Today the sun rose at 5:12 in Vancouver and will set at 9:09 tonight. In Winnipeg the sun rose at 5:28 and will set at 9:28 tonight. The difference in sunlight between the two cities is 3 minutes out of 1,440 minutes in a day.

I can get from B to A, but how do I ever get from A to B?

The distance between Winnipeg and Vancouver is about 1,865 kilometers, by air. Winnipeg’s location must be kind of “in the same spot” during its sunrise, the same spot as Vancouver at its sunrise. Put another way, if earth is rotating, then Winnipeg must “travel” 1,865 kilometers in 2 hours and 16 minutes, or moving at a speed of about 823 km/ hour.

So how do the airplane flights come in to play? First of all, apparently the flight pattern is basically right along the arc of the 49th parallel, so it’s very much a direct flight. Since the plane is following such a direct path, and if the earth is rotating at a speed of 823 km an hour between the two cities, shouldn’t it be a lot quicker to get to Vancouver from Winnipeg than getting to Winnipeg from Vancouver?

Apparently the planes fly at 500 km/ hour in both directions, and the flight times are 2 hours and 55 minutes between the two cities, regardless of the departing city. So what am I missing? I mean, if you’re miles up in the air, travelling at 500 km/ hour, and below you, your destination is travelling in the same direction as you, but at 823 km/ hr, how do you ever get there, never mind getting there in just under 3 hours? I really have no problem being wrong about something here, so if I’m missing something simple, silly me . . . and if so, what is it?


Sunshine on My Mind


Lately a little sunshine has come up in discussions with some really bright people.

Over the last number of years I’ve enjoyed times of solitude where I just reflect on life, mostly the non-human varieties. In the last year or so, since immersing myself in social media, every now and then I get involved in online discussions that relate to this issue of the sun. Sometimes this includes discussions with various scientists.

To be sure, I’m an artist at heart, though I’m also well trained in scientific methodology, statistics and so on, but I don’t pretend to be an ‘expert’ in any of it, don’t need to be. Recently a discussion came up from a scientist who has a blog about the role of artists in kind of “feeding” science. The person actually works in this field, some kind of institute that seeks to combine the two endeavors.

On one hand I can appreciate this, but on the other hand, there is an arrogance behind it that is hard to stomach. It’s the arrogance that all life has a scientific basis. This belief seems to be ingrained in so many people at an alarming rate over the last few decades. As a belief it is very much like a religion. Perhaps not so surprising is the negative reaction that such people have when you point this out, and yet it is so very true.

Many artists tend to look at life differently, to observe and come to know certain things without measurements. Scientists seem to think of this as what, romantic? Dreamy? Idealistic? Whatever term is used, the common one would be “inferior”, at least in terms of comparison to the observing through the use of science. At the unavoidable risk of sounding confrontational, I see it as quite the opposite.

So what does this have to do with the sun?

We’ve all been taught that the sun is very far away, but that’s not really true is it? When you think of its light continually blending in with the planet we live on, and how life here couldn’t exist without it, then you can easily appreciate how inseparable we are from the sun…it’s not just ‘out there’, it’s right here.

Think of the stream of light as an indivisible umbilical chord.

As I mentioned in a previous post, time and gravity are inseparable aspects of life on earth. Now when you combine this with the indivisible aspect of the sun, then you can understand that the earth as a mass, with its time and gravity, are indivisibly connected to the sun.

The problem in physics then is the equation ‘energy = mass x the speed of light squared). This equation involves mass (earth), the sun, and time. It’s not really a valid equation once you accept this indivisibility as I’ve described it.

The reason for that can be shown in a simple question, “How you can multiply something when you can’t really divide it?”

I don’t know what all this means, I just know that I need to say it.

The picture at the top is another one of my unfinished works; it began as a photograph of the door know and keyhole of my storage shed. The link below is on the lighter side, and is a great presentation on the creative thinking process. What I really like about it is that it presented by someone like myself in terms of starting out as someone trained in science.

John Cleese on Creativity

And finally, here is such a wonderful example who in her own way seems to “get it” in terms of light.

Madonna – Ray of Light

An Infinite Universe…How Nice


I’m tired of this endless debate, so many smart people who don’t seem to get it in terms of the simplest truth. The universe is boundless, infinite, end of story.

One thing we all know about walls is that there is always something on the other side. Those who claim that the universe is finite must then claim that the universe has some kind of invisible wall, like a shell of sorts. If so then how thick is the wall, and what’s on the other side?

So either the wall goes on forever or it doesn’t and there is something on the other side…either way it keeps on going…it is infinite, immeasurable.

I’m so tired of any claim else-wise. When you come to understand this boundless aspect, then with  a little thinking you can actually appreciate that in its totality there is a kind a unity. I say this because an infinite universe can neither expand nor contract.

Many people of science get very upset when you can explain this universal truth to them with simple reason, and a little imagination. To these people it seems reputation and the sale of textbooks seem much more important than truth.

Thankfully there are still those who have a passion for truth, and for them it is more important than tradition, more important than egos and more important than reputation, past or present. And thankfully there is no money to made from this simple truth, which speaks volumes when you think about it.

Your comments are welcome, as is freely sharing a little truth…just please don’t ask me what it means! 🙂