OGDEN, Utah – The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has selected a painting by the late Dale Bryner for use on a poster explaining the Nobel Prize for Physics 2002.
The work of art is one of a series of astronomy pictures the former Weber State University visual arts professor provided in collaboration with WSU physics professor Brad Carroll.
The illustration is Bryner’s rendering of Z Chamaeleontis, a binary system consisting of a neutron star that pulls gas from its companion star. On the Nobel poster, the picture is used to illustrate Scorpius X-1, a similar system that is the source of the first known x-ray outside the solar system.
Carroll says the illustration stemmed from Bryner’s interest in astronomy, and his desire to conceptualize an abstract phenomenon. Carroll recalls his colleague asking a series of scientific questions about the system to try and create a visual representation.
“You can’t see this through a telescope,” Carroll said. “Dale had a power of observation that crystallized concepts. Other people would look at things, but Dale would see them. He could bring details together into a coherent whole.”
It’s not clear how the artwork came to be used on the Nobel Prize poster. The picture was used in an astrophysics text book written by Carroll and Dale Ostlie, chairman of WSU’s physics department. It also appears on Carroll’s personal web site, but both seem unlikely sources for the poster’s designers.
Carroll thinks his former colleague would be delighted and amused to have his artwork featured on the poster.
“He was modest about his scientific abilities,” said Carroll. “To see his work being used by a group that honors the best of physics and science would be a real kick for him.”
The Nobel foundation will produce 250,000 copies of the poster, which will be translated into 10 languages. The poster can be seen on the Web at http://www.nobel.se/physics/educational/poster/2002/telescope.html. A larger version of Bryner’s artwork can be seen on Carroll’s web site at http://physics.weber.edu/carroll/.
Bryner was a professor of visual arts at WSU for more than 30 years. He was known for his wide range of artistic styles, from Asian landscapes to portraits to calligraphy. In his later years he became an amateur astronomer, which led him to team up with Carroll and paint several artworks with astronomy themes. Bryner died in 1999.
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