January 5, 2000

Brookhaven's "Big Bang" Images Featured in Millennium Art Exhibit

UPTON, NY - Science and art will collide with a bang in an exhibit opening Thursday at Manhattan's PaineWebber Art Gallery, featuring images from America's newest "atom smasher." The images, produced by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, show matter as scientists think it existed just microseconds after the dawn of our universe.

The exhibit, "Beyond Appearances: Imagery in Science at the Millennium," explores realms that are detectable only indirectly, realms such as subatomic particles and cells, says curator Lynn Gamwell, director of the Binghamton University Art Museum of the State University of New York. "The images help convey the importance of visualizing scientific data," she says.

Brookhaven's "big bang" images are computer simulations based on data scientists expect to generate when they begin collisions of gold atoms at the Lab's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) this year. The exhibit will display still images and an animation that depict the formation of quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter not known to have existed since the birth of our universe.

"These images will help us look back to a point in time some 15 billion years ago, less than a second after the universe began," says Brookhaven's Gordon Smith, who is helping to develop the computer programs that will analyze and visualize the RHIC data. Through the images and other data generated by RHIC, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the matter that now makes up every person, piece of artwork, and all other objects in the universe.

The PaineWebber Art Gallery is located at 1285 Avenue of the Americas. The exhibit will be open to the public Friday, January 7 through March 6, 2000. Regular gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Admission is free. The press is welcome to attend the opening event on Thursday, January 6, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The exhibit will then be on display at the State University of New York at Binghamton from April 14, 2000 to May 19, 2000, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 2001.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

To view some of the images, go to http://www.ccd.bnl.gov/visualization/gallery/au_on_au/ on the World Wide Web.

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