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The art of physicis: 'In Search of Meaning'

By Dave Jones on February 2, 2007 in University

What you see here are the ephemeral tracks of subatomic particles, as photographed in a "bubble chamber" experiment in the 1960s.

Now, artist Lylie Fisher has turned photos like these into works of art, enlarging and cropping, and then by adding layers of paint and color to infuse the images with emotional and spiritual aspects, while retaining the original data.

Fisher, based in Alameda, plans to show her works in public for the first time at a lecture set for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in the AGR Room at the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center at UC Davis. Her program, "In Search of Meaning," explores how art and science both address fundamental questions of existence.

Bubble chambers were widely used in particle physics from the mid-1950s until about 1980, when they were superseded by electronics, said UC Davis physics professor Richard Lander, who is due to attend Fisher's program to explain scientific aspects of the old experiments.

Bubble chambers, he said, were filled with pressurized liquid, usually hydrogen, above its normal boiling point. Particles passing through the superheated liquid left a trail of bubbles that could be captured on camera.

"For me, the photos themselves are fascinating. You can see a spiraling electron here, pair production there," said Lander, who worked extensively with bubble chambers.

The Feb. 6 program is sponsored by the campus's High Energy Frontier Theory Initiative (HEFTI) and the Department of Physics, and is free and open to the public.

-- Andy Fell

On the Net:

HEFTI lecture --

Online gallery --

Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,