Feathered Sculpture - Virgil A. Walker

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Degrees of Freedom

Pheasant, chicken   50" x 29" x 12"


A long history of ignorance of math and science hasn’t diminished my interest, and I have frequently found myself searching the internet reading articles that stretch my comprehension.

Triggered by a science fiction idea I wanted to flesh out, I found an article by Alexander G. Petrov from Bulgaria’s Institute of Solid State Physics called Flexoelectricity of Model and Living Membranes. The proofs were beyond my pay grade, but the ideas hum.

The biomembranes that contain DNA and delineate our living cells have what the scientists term ‘degrees of freedom’. The ability to thin, thicken and twist would be three degrees of freedom. Petrov’s work is focused on degrees of freedom such as the polarization fields generated by flexing in the biomembranes.

Having visualized cells as bubbles, it astounded me to find that the surfaces twist and buckle, and in doing so, create electrical fields to use in their complex purposes. Basically, we have degrees of freedom creating degrees of freedom.
 

   Photo:  Mark Miskill

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