Bubble chamber art

Sean Carrol in the excellent Preposterous Universe:

Bubblechamber Via MetaFilter, via Syaffolee, something that is pretty cool, but also annoying, because it could have been so much cooler: bubble chamber art. Beautiful images generated to resemble pictures taken from bubble chambers, the devices that physicists used to use to observe elementary particle interactions before we switched to fancy electronics.

Here’s the problem: the particle identities don’t make any sense. “Axions exist in a slightly higher dimension and as such are drawn with elevated embossed shadows. Axions are quick to stabilize and fall into single pixel orbits axions automatically re collide themselves after stabilizing.” Nonsense both grammatically, and as physics. (Axions, if they exist at all, do so in our ordinary dimensions, but they are stable neutral particles, and as such they wouldn’t make any tracks in a bubble chamber at all.) I don’t mind if people take license with scientific truths in order to make interesting art, but here it just seems so gratuitous — the pictures would look just as beautiful if the interactions had made sense, and the descriptions would have sounded even more intriguing. Another lost opportunity for bringing the two cultures together.

(Click on image to enlarge.)