Monday, 29 August 2011

Einstein and Escher

It's old news now, but earlier this year, NASA announced the result of it's Gravity Probe B. The mission was aimed at testing Einstein's theory of gravity and, 7 years and \$750 million later, it turns out he's still right, at least to the level that we can measure. More fascinating, though, are the four niobium-coated quartz spheres, like those pictured below, that were involved in the measurement. These are the most spherical objects that mankind has ever manufactured. They are spherical to a thickness of 40 atoms. No surprise that the were fabricated in a German laboratory...

Examples of the orbs in Gravity Probe B. The sphere on the left has not been coated yet.

I immediately saw an uncanny resemblance with the left pair of spheres in Three Spheres II by M.C. Escher.
Three Spheres II by M.C. Escher
I think it's safe to say that many scientists and mathematicians appreciate Escher's work. I'm not sure if the similarity between the images was intentional, but I appreciated it. I thought you might, too.