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Durham University

Research & business

Durham’s cosmology research lights up London

(16 January 2018)

Cosmoscope at Lumiere Durham 2017

Cosmoscope at Lumiere Durham 2017

Research by Durham University scientists into the evolution of galaxies lit up London as part of a major festival.

Cosmoscope was one of the artworks at Lumiere London which saw over 50 installations illuminate the captial’s streets from 18 to 21 January.

The installation made its debut at Lumiere Durham 2017, when it was based in the City’s Crown Court Gardens. Visitors to the London festival were able to see Cosmoscope on Store Street, in Fitzrovia.

Inspired in part by the work of the EAGLE (Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments) project, Cosmoscope explores the patterns, structures and similarities between the Universe, the human body and atoms and molecules.

Realistic simulations of the Universe

EAGLE, primarily a collaboration between Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) and Leiden University in The Netherlands, is a huge supercomputer simulation aimed at understanding how galaxies form and evolve.

A project of the Virgo Consortium for cosmological supercomputer simulations, EAGLE has produced some of the most realistic simulations of the Universe ever seen.

Professor Richard Bower, in Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, is a collaborator on Cosmoscope, together with colleague Dr Pete Edwards, the University’s Director of Science Outreach.

The installation is the work of artist Simeon Nelson, Professor of Sculpture at the University of Hertfordshire, and also involves scientists from the University of Oxford and UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging.

Inspiring artists

Professor Bower said: “Cosmoscope tries to capture the nature of the Universe in a more abstract way and it’s very interested in the scales and rhythms of the Universe.

“The idea is that humankind is in some way centred between the biggest scales of the cosmos and the smallest scales of atoms. Simeon has tried to capture this in the size and scale of the sculpture, but also in its detail. It is a fascinating compression of the scale of the Universe.

“It’s very, very exciting to see the work we do inspiring artists who then take that in different directions to interpret our research in many different ways.”

Immersive light installations

EAGLE also inspired a number of other installations at Lumiere Durham 2017 including Cosmic Architecture, by Nina Dunn and John Del’ Nero, which was projected on to Durham University’s new building for the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics.

It also influenced What Matters, two immersive light and glass installations in St Oswald’s Church and Courtyard, based on the work of the ICC, in collaboration with students at the University of Sunderland and The National Glass Centre, Sunderland.

Durham University was a major partner of Lumiere 2017, produced by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council, with additional support from Arts Council England.

The University’s expertise was also behind the Know Thyself installation, created by History PhD student Finola Finn.

Our Moon, by artist Hannah Fox, was projected on to Durham Castle, home to University College, whilst the University’s Botanic Garden hosted For the Birds, a collection of over 20 light and sound installations inspired by birds.

For more information about the University’s involvement in Lumiere Durham 2017, and its installations, visit here.

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