Science Tech 32

Carl Sagan LED Display


Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Light Sculpture is Real Purty.

Yesterday, after indulging on hearty portions of tryptophan and starch, I sauntered off to bed in need of a soothing, dream-inducing piece of media to sherpa me off to dreamland.  I chose Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Journey and I retain NO REGRETS!  Sagan’s feathery hair and weird, buttonless spaceship quickly ushered me into a state of REM bliss. Now, maybe I’m still dreaming, or maybe I exist in a universe comprised of elegant coincidence, because this morning, I was pleasantly surprised by this headline: Cornell University honors Carl Sagan with stunning LED tribute.

Back in the day, Carl Sagan professed astronomy and infected young minds with curiosity and space stuff at Cornell University, and the school honored his legacy by unveiling a 25×68 foot LED light display, lovingly called, COSMOS.  The 12,000 lights flicker about in various patterns and sequences, evoking thoughts of our ever expanding universe in the minds of people who pass by the visual spectacle.

“Oh wow! Look at those lights, Becky.  Beautiful.  Oh no!  Why can’t I stop thinking about Neptune?!?!  IT’S BEEN THREE WEEKS!!!  KILL ME!!!”

The man behind the design is Leo Villareal.  He’s a light magician and he’s responsible for things like this, this, and this.  This time around, he pumped all sorts of algorithms into his COSMOS display so that it projects all sorts of abstractions of space, and the sky, and nature, and other things that are more wondrous and infinite than we’ll ever hope to be.  It’s a really beautiful piece and I can’t help but think two distinct thoughts when gaze upon its magnificence:

Wow.  I am small and incredibly insignificant.

Wow.  Lights pretty. 

Question: What is your favorite piece of art?