The Art of Interference

Repeating interference patterns

As I've mentioned before, the years I spent in a failure analysis lab were very good years indeed. The range of disciplines meant never having to say "I'm bored," and the resulting knowledge proved useful in many of the seemingly unrelated endeavors that followed. But there were other perks that had more to do with the creative, artistic side of life. Art is where you find it, and sometimes it's found in rather unexpected places.

One such unanticipated art form lay in the materials testing we did in the lab. There are a number of ways to measure the relative strengths of materials, but my favorite method used the principle of interference patternsor moiré patternsto examine stress levels. The resulting patterns were always intriguing, and frequently beautiful in much the same way fractal-generated patterns are beautiful.

During a period of random doodling over the weekend, interference patterns resulted in the graphic you see above. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, so I'll leave it to your eye to decide what's what. A larger version is in the Graphics folder of my Picasa collection.


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