It’s hard to compete with Albert Einstein’s calculations. But if you want to see how Brian Eno and other 21st-century luminaries responded to the challenge, visit the Oxford Museum of the History of Science online.
Setting out to create an exhibit around the museum’s most prized possession — a blackboard full of (relatively) simple equations that Einstein chalked up in 1931 — the curators asked scientists, artists, sports stars, actors, journalists, musicians, and politicians to sketch whatever they wished on an actual blackboard. The results are wonderfully varied: Eno drew a global map of the “Arabic singing diaspora.” The British soccer star Bobby Robson charted a complicated play. And pianist Joanna MacGregor sketched a bass line from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” that illustrates the connection “between Bach’s supersensitivity to the contemporary styles around him . . . and today’s musicians.” This collection serves a similar purpose, connecting past epiphanies to the sudden impulses of the present.
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