Artist's Illustration Series 'The Outer Sun' Depicts Different Theories of the Universe

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 - 11:26AM
Space Imagery
Science Art
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 - 11:26AM
Artist's Illustration Series 'The Outer Sun' Depicts Different Theories of the Universe

"The outer sun hungers for the inner one." -Jakob Böhme, De Signatura Rerum

 

Toronto-based illustrator Caitlin Russell has published her series, The Outer Sun, online, which consists of illustrations that visually interpret different theories of the universe. 

 

The official description of the series reads, "An ongoing series illustrating human ideas about the cosmos, from fantastical ancient beliefs to contemporary scientific theories."

 

"The earth is a sphere because that is the most perfect mathematical shape and all heavenly bodies are perfect." 

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

This quotation is paraphrased from Pythagoras, who is often cited as the first to theorize that the Earth was round.

 

"It's turtles all the way down."

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

This illustration refers to a legendary anecdote in the field of cosmology involving the once popular notion that the world was flat and balanced on a World Turtle (an actual Atlas-like turtle.) Stephen Hawking described the myth in his book A Brief History of Time:

 

"A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?' 'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down!'"

 

This story has been used as a metaphor for infinite regress, which is the problem in epistemology of needing an infinite number of propositions to justify an asserted truth. So A can only be true if B is true, and B can only be true if C is true, and so forth. It has also been used to discuss cosmological concepts such as Aristotle's unmoved mover, which states that everything that is in motion must be moved by something else, but this series cannot be infinite, so there must be one entity that is not moved by anything else. This is similar to the "first cause" argument for the existence of God: everything that occurs has a cause, but the series cannot go on forever, so there must be some kind of "first cause" of the Universe, or some kind of creator. 

 

"The planets travel on elliptical orbits around the sun."

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

This illustration refers to Jannes Kepler's laws of planetary motion, which are as follows: 

 

1) The orbit of a planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci.

2) A line segment joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.

3) The square of the orbital period of a planet is proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.

 

These laws, along with principles discovered by Newton, became the foundation of modern astronomy and cosmology. 

 

"There is a great void far out in space, devoid of any galaxies, clusters, or dark matter."

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

This illustration depicts the Eridanus Supervoid, which is the largest void ever found in the Universe. It is a billion light years in diameter, and contains no cosmological structures or even dark matter. It was discovered during attempts to explain a "cold spot" in the cosmic microwave background, in which photons that came into contact with it were much colder than predicted. Described as a "cosmic nothingness," the void has been speculated to be the result of quantum entanglement between our universe and another. 

 

"The flat earth is enclosed by a cosmic ocean. And beyond the ocean are seven islands that only a few have ever reached." 

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

According to the Babylonians, there was a Heavenly ocean that flowed around the heavens. Between the Heavenly and Earthly oceans, there are seven islands that form a bridge between them. 

 

"The universe is expanding, and galaxies are moving farther away from each other."

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

This is in line with current cosmological theories. To read more about the expansion of the universe, click here.

 

"The universe is flat, and parallel lines go on forever."

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

NASA scientists have claimed that they know the Universe is flat "with only a .4% margin of error." All observations of the known universe seem to confirm that the general curvature of space and time is flat and infinite, as opposed to a spherical universe or a hyperbolic universe. 

 

"Stars are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust, when a gravitational 'center' develops in a molecular cloud."

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

This is a depiction of a protostar, which forms in the interstellar medium. Like other stars, it forms when the pressure forces that keep giant molecular clouds from collapsing fall out of balance with the gravitational forces that induce collapse. The cloud then forms a core of increased density, which eventually becomes a star.

 

"Everything is made of triangles. All matter is made up of geometric elements, and triangles are the smallest indivisible particles."

[Credit: Caitlin Russell]

 

This illustration arises from the theories of ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Plato believed that there were four elements: earth, air, fire, and water, and that these elements consisted of particles, which were elementary right triangles.

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