Thursday 14 October 2010


I drove up Brathay hill in a furious temper yesterday. Radio 4 are re-running a series on Cern originally broadcast in 2008, which coincides nicely with the school run. Yesterday's programme was about anti-matter and included an interview with a scientist who explained that his theory for the non-existence of anti-matter in the universe as we know it (we can create anti-matter, and for every piece of matter, and equal piece of anti-matter should exist - but if anti-matter and matter meet, they cancel each other out) was that there was...wait for it..."an asymmetry when the big bang happened" - so for every billion antimatter particles, a billion and one matter particles were created. Thus, although most antimatter and matter particles cancelled each other out, still lots remained.
An Asymmetry? Really? Seems to me that this guy has just explained exactly why I got fed up with science. That just sounds so much like a complete fudge. Asymmetry could explain anything and everything - and indeed, nothing. If we're going to allow asymmetries whenever we don't quite understand something, then we are allowing chaos and removing the need for the universe to have an overall pattern. Actually, that's fine by me, but I'm surprised a scientist would find it acceptable.
Talking of chaos, by the time I reached school I realised that they'd managed to produce their own, highly-predictable but nonetheless unforeseen asymmetry in parking arrangements. The late finishing of the annual fell-race had meant a long tail of cars with nowhere to park and no-one (as yet) to pick up. Luckily the place has spectacular views and lots of foliage so I sat and admired both, attempting to draw inspiration and to analyse the structure of leaf forms. As the children did start to emerge I turned my attention to their faces and head shapes as instructed by the very readable Bandhu Scott Dunham at the start of Contemporary Lampworking vol 3 Yes, my new book! And brilliant! Written like Cold Comfort Farm with Rant Warnings in the margins and recipes for sausages cooked in glass tubes! I recommend this book to anyone - and he recommends that you need, to sculpt successfully and fluidly, to examine and draw nature. He also recommends surreptitiously drawing people on buses, trains etc..
I can tell you that sitting in a school run queue staring at the faces and attempting to draw them results in some very strange glances. It isn't particularly popular with your own children either and explaining that you're doing it for your glasswork doesn't seem to make matters any better.
On another note, this is a marble I've just made. Typically for borosilicate glass, the rod is a dark colour that looks transparent light blue when held to the light. Encased and imploded, it is the most stunning variegated fir green. Must be an asymmetry somewhere there.

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