Art + Science

"Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art."  -Will Durant



dances in flatland


Leonardo's vision for flow visualization

Leonardo’s studies of cardiovascular systems, in more than 50 surviving pages from two phases of his research (around 1508–1509 and 1513), are a clear demonstration of his observational genius and progressive deduction of cardiac mechanics and the vascular system. He carried out a detailed hemodynamic study of the aortic valve motion and the role of the Sinus of Valsalva in the closure dynamics of the aortic valve, and he accurately correlated the formation of vortices with the separation of a retarded (shear) layer from the lips of the leaflets. In vivo verification of vortex formation in the Sinus of Valsalva during the systolic phase awaited the application of modern phase-averaged magnetic resonance imaging techniques. Did Leonardo actually build the glass model he twice mentioned, thus performing the first scientific flow visualization of impulsive vortex formation or other fluid mechanical phenomena? Evidence in support of this possibility can be found in both the unusually schematic style he employed for this suite of drawings and the recent flow imaging results obtained in our laboratory through laser-based imaging techniques.



Flying Pyramids, Soaring Stones

The perennial ‘mystery’ of the pyramids has another solution. Using a process described as ‘reverse engineering’ a group of scientists attempt a number of experiments to investigate whether the Egyptians could have used wind power to move blocks of stone.

This work is premised on the assumption that the ancient Egyptians needed some ‘mysterious’ source of power and energy to achieve the monumental building programs that they have left for us.

In this History Channel documentary series, professor Mory Gharib and graduate student Emilio Graff work with other scientists and engineers to errect a replica obelisk using only wind energy.

Flying Stones.jpg



As flight technology progresses, more and more aircraft are desired to weather through adverse flight conditions. Traditional wind tunnels are not capable of simulating non-uniform flight conditions. The Real Weather Wind Tunnel, composed of many computer fans is capable of establishing complex flows that are impossible with traditional wind tunnel designs.

In this photo series, graduate student Manuel Bedrossian explores the concept and irony of using a seemingly infinitly uniform array of fans to create non-uniform and complex flow patterns.

Photo: Manuel Bedrossian

Photo: Manuel Bedrossian