APS physics tip sheet #53

In this issue: the physics of abstract art, sparkling wine, and broken hearts.

Astrophysical Analyses of Art
J. R. Mureika et al.
Physical Review E (forthcoming article, available to journalists on request)

Works of abstract art can be separated into various artistic movements using mathematical techniques derived from cosmological analyses that have previously helped catalog types of galaxies. Researchers from Marymount University in California and the University of Toronto applied multifractal analyses that they developed when studying galaxies to the colors in abstract paintings. Their goal was to identify which paintings shared characteristics consistent with certain movements.

Fractal analysis, which other researchers have used previously to study the works of Jackson Pollock, characterizes patterns based on a single fractal dimension. That dimension indicates the relationship between of the edge of a pattern and its area. Multifractals, on the other hand, are potentially more powerful because they take into consideration the fact that a single pattern may have many fractal dimensions, depending on the size of a pattern region being analyzed.

The researchers also propose that edge multifractals, which characterize the shapes of the borders of colored regions rather than the locations of the colors on the canvas, appear to be promising tools for studying the aesthetic appeal of art works. Another technique called fractal reconstruction may eventually lead to a kind of fingerprint for artistic movements, but the researchers found the results too vague to be conclusive.

Patterns in Champagne Bubbles
G. Liger-Belair et al.
Physical Review E

The last time you raised a glass of champagne in toast, you may have noticed the carbon dioxide bubbles in the glass

Contact: James Rirodon
American Physical Society

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