Van Gogh's Vortices

      Van Gogh, probably not familiar with hydrodynamics of fluid flow and flow
over submerged bodies, painted these phenomena in a most expressive way

Starry Night by V.van Gogh

      The most famous of all van Gogh's paintings from the great creative period of June and early July 1889 is Starry Night. A highly dramatic cosmic event is taking place in the sky above the sleeping town below, an atmosphere crowded with mysterious flowing lines, suggestive of galaxies in motion. Two gigantic spiral nebulae are entwined; eleven enormously enlarged stars, like fireballs with aureoles of light, break through the night; an unreal orange-colored moon seems to be joined to the sun; a broad band of light - perhaps the Milky Way - is drawn across the horizon, and the deep blue sky appears to be in unsettling turmoil. The immediacy and expressive power of the painting are intensified by the impulsive, sweeping flow of brush.
      The equivalent to the above artistic-literary description is known in scientific terms as vortices and flow over submerged bodies. One should also note the interaction between the streamlines formed in the flow over the eleven stars as well as the boundary layer created above the mountains - all in all, a painting showing how art serves to illustrate scientific concepts.

Magritte's Concept of Time     menu     Einstein's Relativity

Art and Science Museum