Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:55 AM EDT

The Man Behind the Theorem—CERN Artwork Pays Homage to John Stuart Bell

Nov 11, 2014 06:42 PM EST

LHC 1 Digital Print
(Photo : Lucy McKenna) LHC 1 Digital Print

Coming off the toes of Nov. 10 World Science Day for Peace and Development, established by UNESCO in 2001, CERN announced this week that an exhibition held in Belfast, Ireland may reveal another view of famed physicist John Stewart Bell's extraordinary career. The exhibition entitled Action at a Distance: The Life and Legacy of John Stewart Bell celebrates the 50th anniversary of Bell's famous theorem that revolutionized the field of quantum theory, and reveals much more than the numbers and variables in the head of the man.

Opening this week at Belfast's Naughton Gallery, and running until the 30th of November, the gallery exhibition combines artwork and physics for quite a unique audience out to learn more about how Bell changed the views held by physicists and philosophers to date.

"On the 50th anniversary of the publication of Bell's theorem, this unique exhibition explores his life and the artistic response to his legacy by artists across the world" spokespersons from The Naughton Gallery say. "His proof of non-locality - that a measurement of particle A would instantaneously affect particle B, even if they were a vast distance apart - revolutionized the understanding of both quantum theory and the nature of the physical universe."

Amongst the 5 lecturers, held in conjunction with the exhibition, 8 artists have shared their artwork to be displayed, conveying the impact that Bell's work had on their work and their views of the universe. But one artist in particular had a unique inspiration for her artwork, courtesy of a "Tweetup" held by CERN in 2012 at the Large Hadron Collider. While visiting during the social media event, Irish artist Lucy McKenna who was invited to Tweet about her experience at CERN, snapped a photograph of a scrap of paper she found in the control room which later became the inspiration to her artwork.

Covered in hand-drawn diagrams, the symbols and shapes inspired an homage to Bell relating to his impact on the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle and the development of the Large Hadron Collider.

"I was particularly interested in the apophenia that occurred from mirroring the data" McKenna says. "[It gave] rise to shapes appearing to the human eye that aren't actually there."

While the artwork on display is as diverse as Bell's interests were in theoretical physics, those who'd like to learn a bit more about the man behind the theorem can expect a myriad of stories and research lectures that show how Bell changed the face of quantum physics forever.

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