Page 7 - UD Research Magazine Vol5-No1
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we only had 72 hours to use the Maia detector to study it. I then spent my senior year analyzing the data with the help of CHESS staff scientist Arthur Woll.
Q. What do you think this finding tells us about Picasso?
I think the consensus among the conservators, cura- tors and art historians involved with this project is that at the beginning of the Blue Period in
1901, Picasso was developing new styles and new themes
in his artwork in response to some tumultuous events in his personal life. Covering up the original painting that was on this canvas with the idealized version of his studio that we see in The Blue Room today could have been an attempt on Picasso's part to redefine his direction as an artist.
Q. Do you think other master- pieces hold such mysteries?
This is the case for several Picasso paintings, including such Blue Period works as
The Old Guitarist (1903–1904,
Art Institute of Chicago) and
Le Gourmet (1901, The National Gallery). The Maia detector was also used to investigate a hidden painting by Rembrandt, so it's not uncommon.
Q. What are you doing now?
This past August, I began 10 months of study at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, where I'm studying pigment changes in the works of Edvard Munch, who painted The Scream. I am creating a database of materials that he used in his paintings.
Q. Did you always want to be an art detective?
When I started as a fresh- man at UD, I was a chemistry major planning to go into patent law. My freshman room- mate was an art conservation major and after listening to her talk about what she wanted to do, I felt like I was in the wrong major! I always loved art and history as well as science, so
it was amazing to be able to combine art conservation and chemistry coursework.
After I finish my research in Norway, I will start a Ph.D. program in chemistry at Duke. I hope to work as a museum scientist after that.
—Tracey Bryant
The hidden man revealed. Conservators long suspected another painting was hiding under Picasso's The Blue Room due to some strange brushstrokes. Scientific analysis reveals the hidden portrait (far left), which is shown vertically here for ease of viewing. In its
hidden state, the portrait is horizontal, as if the mystery man is reclining, head resting on his arm. Experts say Picasso likely painted over the portrait because canvas was expensive.
Flame Nebula heats up the night
It was a clear night on Feb. 3 at Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory in Greenville, Delaware—and only about 15°F.
But the big chill didn’t deter Prof. Judi Provencal’s astronomy class from
completing their mission, ironically, to photograph the Flame Nebula, where hot new suns are being formed some 8 quadrillion miles away.
Stefan Zimmerman, a senior from Wilmington, Delaware, majoring in computer science with a minor in astronomy, was one of eight students who took part in imaging the nebula, which is a cloud of gas and dust. The outdoor work involved moving around the telescope, which has a 24-inch mirror, using a computer program to point the scope in the right direction, and centering the object in the camera.
Because the camera doesn't produce color images, three sets of images had to be taken, each with a different filter, to let visible light through, then blue light, and finally red light. The students took these raw images, removed the “noise” or grainy areas, and combined them to create a color image.
Provencal says the dark tentacles in Zimmerman’s photo, shown here, are clouds of cold hydrogen and dust. Beyond them lies a cluster of young stars only 200,000 years old compared to our sun of 4.5 billion years. These young stars are heating the more distant gas, causing it to glow.
“These young stars may also have rotating protoplanetary disks, which are forming new solar systems. It’s pretty neat,” Provencal says.
After graduation this spring, Zimmerman plans to head to L.A. to be a game designer. But he says he definitely wants to keep astronomy as a hobby.—Tracey Bryant
You can see the Flame Nebula with a handheld telescope. It’s in the constellation Orion, near the
leftmost star in Orion’s belt. Photo by Stefan Zimmerman. |5

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