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the unintentional beauty of science and research facilities
original content
jun 12, 2013
the unintentional beauty of science and research facilities


 

‘SOLAR / ANECHOIC’ solo-exhibition by alastair philip wiper
all images © alastair philip wiper – with permission

 

 

alastair philip wiper
etage gallery, copenhagen
june 6th – june 16th, 2013

 

 

presented in conjunction with the copenhagen photo festival, ’SOLAR / ANECHOIC’ deals with the unintentional beauty of science and research facilities: in particular, the anechoic chambers at the technical university of denmark and the and the four solaire in the french pyrenees – the world’s largest solar furnace. the solo exhibition by copenhagen-based photographer alastair philip wiper at the etage gallery captures these purely functional facilities in a new light, highlighting how they push the limits of heat, radio and sound waves.  influenced by how these intricate architectural volumes have contributed to the advancement of mankind – both on our planet and in space, the exhibit provokes an analysis of the complexities and magnificence of human ingenuity, celebrated in a visual documentation.

 

 

the exhibit deals with the unintentional beauty of science and research facilities

 

 

the anechoic and resonating chambers of DTU

 

‘an anechoic chamber (an-echoic meaning non-echoing or echo-free) is a room designed to completely absorb reflections of either sound or electromagnetic waves. they are also insulated from exterior sources of noise. the combination of both aspects means they simulate a quiet open-space of infinite dimension, which is useful when exterior influences would otherwise give false results.’

 

 

the exhibit deals with the unintentional beauty of science and research facilities

 

 

the photographs capture these purely functional facilities in a new light, shown as they push the limits of heat, radio and sound waves

 

 

the radio anechoic chamber at DTU opened in 1967, and is currently operated in cooperation with the european space agency for the testing of microwave antennas for use in satellites and mobile networks, among other things. the idea is to minimize any reflections of microwaves, and the big foam spikes are filled with carbon powder to absorb the radio waves. this tests the effectiveness of the antennas without any external intrusion, simulating the conditions of, for example, space. many of these chambers are blue in colour, and according to sergey pivnenko, the professor in charge of the chamber, most of them were black in the old days – then some bright spark noticed that it was a bit depressing to work in a black spiky room all day, so the manufacturers of the spikes started to produce them in blue.

 

 

the spikes on the walls, ceilings and floor absorb all sound waves, so there is no echo at all

 

 

the audio anechoic chambers work in much the same way as the microwave anechoic chamber, but the point is to remove reflections of audio waves rather than radio waves. the spikes on the walls, ceilings and floor absorb all sound waves, so there is no echo at all – it’s quite strange to stand in the room. there is a net in the middle of the room that acts as the floor, so when you stand in the middle, there is an equal distance to the floor and ceiling, which is also quite strange. the room is used for testing all sorts of audio devices and the amount of noise they make.

 

 

the anechoic and resonating chambers removes reflections of audio waves rather than radio waves

 

 

many of these chambers are blue in colour, and according to the professor in charge of the chamber, most of them were black in the old days

 

 


the exhibit provokes an analysis of the complexities and magnificence of human ingenuity, celebrated in a visual documentation

 

 

view of the chambers in scale

 

 

views of solar furnaces at night in the french pyrenees

 

 

the solar furnaces of the french pyrenees

 

due to the excellent conditions for solar energy, the region of cerdanya in the french pyrenees has been a site for solar experimentation for over half a century. the region enjoys almost 2400 hours of sunshine per year, very low wind and a high elevation to provide stronger sunlight. the mont-louis solar furnace, built in 1949 by dr. felix trombe, was the first of its kind in the world, and was the precursor to the incredible, huge solar furnace just down the road at odeillo. the solar furnace concentrates the power of the sun into a tiny area where objects can be heated to extremely high temperatures; this heat is completely pure because there are no burning substances that can pollute the heat. the furnace was originally designed to test scientific principles and how different materials react to high temperatures, but nowadays it is used to fire clay, and for educational demonstrations. the organization that owns the furnace now is developing programs to take the technique to tropical countries to create cheap, sustainable energy and ovens.

 

 

built in 1949 by dr. felix trombe, the mont-louis solar furnace was the first built of its kind in the world

 

 

the solar furnace concentrates the power of the sun into a tiny area where objects can be heated to extremely high temperatures

 

 

in 1970 dr. trombe opened the worlds largest solar furnace a few kilometers away at odeillo, and the furnace works on the same principle as its older, smaller brother: the sun’s energy is reflected on a series of mirrors and concentrated on one very small point to create extremely high temperatures. it is still used by space agencies like NASA and the ESA, scientists, and technology companies to research the effects of extremely high temperatures on certain materials for nuclear reactors and space vehicle reentry, and to produce hydrogen and nanoparticles. the immense parabolic mirror, tall as the arc de triomphe in paris, reflects the countryside and sky, giving an ever changing patchwork view of the surrounding area that is beautiful and fascinating to watch, and focuses the sun’s rays onto a point about the size of a cooking pot, where temperatures reach 3,500 °C.

 

 

the furnace was originally designed to test scientific principles and how different materials react to high temperatures

 

 

the furnace technique is being applied in tropical countries to create cheap, sustainable energy and ovens

 

 

the immense parabolic mirror, reflects the countryside and sky, giving an ever changing patchwork view of the surrounding area

 

 

full article here

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