Alexandra McDonough-"Uncovering Conserved Energy"

Artwork By: Alexandra McDonough 

Alexandra McDonough is currently a junior majoring in studio arts and biology with a minor in chemistry. She has an interest in combining biology with the arts to allow the community to further engage with the sciences. After graduating from Pitt, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in graphic design. For her piece, McDonough worked with professor Joseph Boudreau to create a painting that incorporated the concepts of particle physics. The inspiration for this work was based on data from the ATLAS experiment at CERN and Pitt software that visualizes collision events. This stunning graphical data showing different collision factors and forces made bridging the world of physics and art much easier. The concept of the Law of Conservation played a large role in forming the piece. The idea that there is an undetectable force balancing out the other forces that occur during particle collisions is evidence of this fundamental law. Without this “hidden” force acting against the various collision forces, the laws of physics and the natural world would not work.
With this in mind, McDonough wanted to create a visualization of the energy not found by sensors but by equations. She translated these force vectors onto a wooden canvas with geometric shapes and color. The canvas is shaped as a circle to represent the cross-section of the particle accelerator. With data from the ATLAS experiment, the multitude of vectors formed from a particle collision became an assortment of paint strokes.