Physicist Blatt talks to local organizations about the physics of art; climate change

On March 11, 2014, Les Blatt, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Education, presented a talk titled “Neo-Impressionism: Art and Science” at a meeting of the Worcester Art Museum Friends of the Library. The presentation touched on aspects of the physics of light, the sometimes peculiar nature of our visual perception, and the once-controversial artistic experiments of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.

During February and March of 2014, Blatt offered a course through Assumption College’s WISE Program (Worcester Institute for Senior Education) called “The Sounds of Music,” which explained and demonstrated the deep connections between the physics of sound and many aspects of music, including how various musical instruments — and the human voice — create their very different but easily-recognizable timbres; the relationships between perceived pitches and fundamental vibrational frequencies; the physical causes of consonant and dissonant intervals and combinations of notes; and why J. S. Bach had to have his clavier “well-tempered.” The course was a follow-up to Blatt’s 2013 WISE course, “Seeing the Light,” which explored many of the “crossroads” of science and art over the centuries.

On February 11 Blatt presented a talk titled “Global Warming: Sound Science, Porous Politics” for the Greater Worcester Humanists, which detailed the physical science behind the on-going, world-wide changes in climate and the major role that human actions continue to play in this deepening crisis. Economic and political issues were raised, but no positions were advocated aside from the observation that “deciding to do nothing at all” is, in fact, the conscious decision we seem to be making. The presentation was similar to one Blatt had made to Clark University’s G. Stanley Hall Club on November 14, 2013.