.

  • Written by Mark Blaskovich, Senior Research Officer, The University of Queensland
Artists Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim produced a series of 51 artistic interpretations of elements from the Periodic Table.

Artistic depictions of several chemical elements feature in a new exhibition from today as part of Australia’s celebrations for the International Year of the Periodic Table.

They are the work of artists Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim, who worked together since December 2018 on the renditions that will be on display at Quantum Victoria, a specialist science and mathematics centre in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim. Photo credit Delilah Yu

The project followed a chance meeting between Damon and Soula Bennett, the director of Quantum Victoria. Soula believes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) naturally extend to incorporate art.


À lire aussi : The periodic table: from its classic design to use in popular culture


So Damon and Kim were commissioned to produce a series of 51 artistic interpretations illustrating elements of significance in the story of the birth of the universe from the Periodic Table.

Mat Greentree and Damon Kowarsky installing some of the works at Quantum. Photo credit Hyunju Kim

While Kowarsky was responsible for creating the drawings of the panels, the colours are by Kim.

As scientists who work with many elements from a scientific point of view, we were curious as to how Kowarsky chose some of the representations he did, so we asked him to describe the artistic process for some of his favourite elements.

Helium (He)

The helium (He) artwork. Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim

Popular view: Used for balloons and to make your voice sound funny as it’s lighter and less dense than air.

Chemist’s view: An unreactive (noble) gas that is particularly useful in cooling applications – liquid helium at -269℃ is used to keep magnets at a superconducting temperature. Element with the lowest boiling point.

Artist’s view (Damon): Helium is colourless, odourless, tasteless, almost completely inert, not commonly found on Earth, and named after the Sun, whose image dominated the design I completed for hydrogen.

Not a promising start in terms of visualisation!

In many ways it’s the most abstract of elements, and this ultimately was the clue that unlocked the design. The background composition is structured around a chart showing the passage of the Sun through the sky at the latitude and longitude of Charles La Trobe College (in Melbourne, the site of the installation) on January 1.

Overlaid onto this is the sequence of helium formation in stellar nucleosynthesis, a graph showing the rates of production and consumption of helium (despite its prevalence in the universe it’s a finite resource on Earth) and the bars of the absorption spectrum that allowed this, the first ever extraterrestrial element, to be discovered.

Iron (Fe)

The iron (Fe) artwork. Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim

Popular view: Used to make steel. Iron ore is the source of much of Australia’s wealth. Found in blood.

Chemist’s view: The most common element on Earth, making up around 35% of the its mass. Iron is used to catalyse a very important chemical reaction, the combination of nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia, an essential component of fertiliser.

Artist’s view: Iron is a pivotal element in the Periodic Table in terms of how the elements are created.

Showing a cross section of Earth allowed me to talk about its prevalence, maintain design coherence through the repetition of circles, and introduce bold and saturated colours. The smaller circle represents a red blood cell (iron is found in haemoglobin) and the pie charts show the relative distribution of iron isotopes.

In the bottom left corner the alchemical symbol for iron (Mars, the masculine attribute) breaks into the form of Earth. Alchemy is important as one of the foundations of modern chemistry and its symbols are historically and visually interesting. I didn’t want it to dominate though, so using a negative shape seemed a good way to balance all these concerns.

Copper (Cu)

The copper (Cu) artwork. Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim

Popular view: For the older generation, copper pipes and 1 and 2 cent coins.

Chemist’s view: Metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Very useful for catalysing some chemical reactions, especially a so-called click reaction where two molecules can be quickly linked together under mild conditions.

Artist’s view: With copper there’s the amazing colour and its history as one of the oldest metals known to humans.

I relied on the element’s utility and familiarity, and wanted to step away from symmetry and the geometric prevalence of circles. Even though copper is inorganic, its malleability and ductility lends an almost lifelike quality to its forms.

A map of Cyprus (copper is named for the place it was first discovered and mined) contributes to the overall balanced asymmetry of the design.

Calcium (Ca)

The calcium (Ca) artwork. Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim

Popular view: Found in limestone, chalk and coral, and bones and teeth.

Chemist’s view: Highly reactive and the most abundant metal in the human body. As calcium chloride, used as a desiccant to remove water from air and solvents so reactions can be done anhydrously (without the presence of water, which can interfere with some reactions).

Artist’s view: Calcium is common in bones, shells and teeth. The challenge was finding images that were visually interesting and fitted the hexagonal shape.

Happily, this collection of human bones found on the web was neither articulated nor hopelessly jumbled. I was pleased how the curved bones (rib and collar) echo other design elements.

The energy artwork. Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim

Shells of course follow the Fibonacci Curve, whose elegant spiral can be seen in the another panel of the exhibit (“Energy”), where it represents a timeline of the universe.

Nitrogen (N)

The nitrogen (N) artwork. Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim

Popular view: Forms about 78% of Earth’s atmosphere, found in proteins and nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), and a key component of fertilisers.

Chemist’s view: The triple bond (N≡N) form of nitrogen found in the atmosphere, is the second strongest bond in any diatomic molecule (composed of two elements). Although problematic for chemistry, it is useful as it releases large amounts of energy when broken. This is used both for fertilisers and explosives, and remains an essential process in the chemical industry.

Artist’s view: Nitrogen compounds are essential for life. There are two main ways atmospheric nitrogen is converted to forms that are usable by plants and animals.

The first is lightning.

The second, and much less dramatic, is the symbiotic relationship between bacteria and the roots of certain plants. Typically these are beans and legumes but Australian wattles and acacias also contain nitrogen-fixing nodules.

Other artistic elements

Of course, Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim are not the first to take an artistic look at the elements.

Other examples include a graphic artist’s version by Julie Hu to convey to non-scientists the richness of what these substances bring to our world.


À lire aussi : Silver makes beautiful bling but it's also good for keeping the bacterial bugs away


Another is a periodic table printmaking project by Jennifer Schmitt, the daughter of a chemistry teacher mother and an artistic father, she grew up seeing beauty in science.

There is also a depiction of the elements as characters by Kaycie Dunlap, who was inspired by a desire make science more interesting by imagining what the elements would look like in our regular life.

Multiple quilting projects have drawn inspiration from sources such as the elements’ names, unique characteristics, and purposes (curated by artist Jill Rumoshosky Werner in 2015) or the wonderful stories about people, cultures, history, art, politics and science associated with them (curated by Kim Baird).


The artworks are on display from July 18, 2019, at Quantum Victoria, 235 Kingsbury Drive, Macleod, Victoria (they’re also available online).

If you’d like to see them please call (03) 9223 1460 or email at admin@quantumvictoria.vic.edu.au to arrange a visit, as this is a school site (co-located with Charles La Trobe P-12 College).

Mark Blaskovich is a member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and the American Chemical Society.

Frances Separovic receives funding from Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC). She is a member of the American Chemical Society, ANZMAG, Biophysical Society, ISMAR and RACI.

Authors: Mark Blaskovich, Senior Research Officer, The University of Queensland

Read more http://theconversation.com/when-an-artist-looks-at-a-chemical-element-what-do-they-see-117906

Your Airbnb guest could be a tenant. Until the law is cleared up, hosts are in limbo

A Victorian court decision that an Airbnb agreement had the status of a lease has profound implications for guests and hosts. Daniel Krason/ShutterstockWith summer holidays around the corner, many Vic...

Bill John Swannie, Lecturer in College of Law and Justice, Victoria University - avatar Bill John Swannie, Lecturer in College of Law and Justice, Victoria University

5 reasons I always get children picture books for Christmas

Children who love being read to are more likely to find learning to read easier. from shutterstock.comChristmas is just around the corner. If you’re wondering what to get your child, your friend...

Kym Simoncini, Associate professor Early Childhood and Primary Education, University of Canberra - avatar Kym Simoncini, Associate professor Early Childhood and Primary Education, University of Canberra

Tough nuts: why peanuts trigger such powerful allergic reactions

The humble peanut. Tasty for most, treacherous for some. Dr Dwan Price, Author providedFood allergens are the scourge of the modern school lunchbox. Many foods contain proteins that can set off an ove...

Dwan Price, Molecular Biologist and Postdoc @ Deakin AIRwatch pollen monitoring system., Deakin University - avatar Dwan Price, Molecular Biologist and Postdoc @ Deakin AIRwatch pollen monitoring system., Deakin University

Must end soon! But not too soon! The catch in time-limited sales tactics

Time-limited offers leverage risk-aversion. That is, the more you dislike risk, the more likely it is you will take the bait and buy now. www.shutterstock.comAs Christmas shopping ramps up, you may be...

Daniel Zizzo, Professor and Academic Dean of the School of Economics, The University of Queensland - avatar Daniel Zizzo, Professor and Academic Dean of the School of Economics, The University of Queensland

Refugees without secure visas have poorer mental health – but the news isn't all bad

Refugees without permanent visas can experience a prolonged sense of insecurity and displacement. From shutterstock.comThere are more than 29.4 million forcibly displaced asylum seekers and refugees a...

Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW - avatar Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW

God made the rainbow: why the Bible welcomes every colour in the gender spectrum

The Bible affirms, in various ways, the inclusion of those who diverge from male-female gender norms. ShutterstockThis article is part of a series exploring gender and Christianity “God made ...

Robyn J. Whitaker, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity - avatar Robyn J. Whitaker, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity

Jojo Rabbit: Hitler humour and a child's eye view of war make for dark satire

Jojo's allegiances in the film are split between an imagined friends and a real hideaway. Fox SearchlightJojo Rabbit is not Disney Studios’ first foray into Hitler parody. In 1943, it produced ...

Benjamin Nickl, Lecturer in International Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, University of Sydney - avatar Benjamin Nickl, Lecturer in International Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, University of Sydney

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it becomes ongoing and keeps posing new challenges to us. Of course, it may seem easy from some perspe...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas presents for everybody on your checklist. Christmas is now here, and if that you haven't got a hop on ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Ultimate Guide to Sneakers and Sneaker Brands

When it comes to finding the perfect pair of sneakers, it can be hard to know where to start. Finding the right pair for any kind of occasion can be difficult, so brushing up on your knowledge of sn...

News Company - avatar News Company

Conservative landslide at UK's Brexit election; Trump's ratings rise on strong US economy

Led by Boris Johnson, the Conservatives won 56% of the vote and will have an 80-seat majority. AAP/EPA/ VIckie FloresAt the December 12 UK election, the Conservatives won 365 of the 650 House of Commo...

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne - avatar Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

Johnson's thumping win an electoral lesson in not just having policies, but knowing how to sell them

With Johnson's crushing win, Brexit will now happen. But this may also be the start of the break-up of the UK. AAP/EPA/Vickie FloresSo for all the talk of narrowing polls, tactical voting, and possib...

Simon Tormey, Professor of Politics, University of Bristol - avatar Simon Tormey, Professor of Politics, University of Bristol

View from The Hill: Morrison won't have a bar of public service intrusions on government's power

Scott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the long-awaited Thodey review. AAP/Paul BravenScott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the l...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan reflects on the year in politics

For their last video for the year, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini and Michelle Grattan look backwards to the big issues which have shaped political discourse. They discuss the surpr...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Choosing a Heavy Weighted Bathmats

Decorating your bathroom doesn’t finish with the paint choice or tile colours. You can change the whole room with the change of your towel set. There are no rules that say that you need to have a ...

News Company - avatar News Company

God as man, man as God: no wonder many Christian men today are having a masculinity crisis

How men saw God shaped how they saw themselves, and in turn, how they saw women. WikimediaThis article is part of our Gender and Christianity series. To understand contemporary Christian ideas about...

William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University - avatar William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University

Australia needs a national crisis plan, and not just for bushfires

Bushfires aren't the only catastrophic emergency Australia is likely to see. AAP Image/Mick TsikasCalls are growing for a national bushfire plan, including from former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull...

Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University - avatar Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University

Your Christmas shopping could harm or help the planet. Which will it be?

Many Australian consumers are concerned at the environmental impact of their shopping habits, especially at Christmas. AAPAustralian shoppers are set to spend $52.7 billion this Christmas. In the word...

Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania - avatar Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania

Right-swipes and red flags – how young people negotiate sex and safety on dating apps

For many young people, app dating is just part of regular dating life. freestocks.org/UnsplashPopular commentary on dating apps often associates their use with “risky” sex, harassment and ...

Kath Albury, Professor of Media and Communication, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Kath Albury, Professor of Media and Communication, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it...

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas pr...

How to Have a Peaceful Retirement

Retirement is the time to treat yourself after a lifetime of working, to complete your bucket list...

Latest Wednesday Lotto Results

Wednesday Lotto draw 3917 Lucky numbers for this draw were 43 followed by 25. The rest of the...