Archive for the 'Art' Category



Beauty from Technology

Part of Jantar Mantar, the 18th century observatory at Jaipur, India. Click the image to see more incredible pictures. [Credit: GSZ on Flickr]

Last week, someone posted a set of truly amazing photos of Jantar Mantar, an 18th century observatory in Jaipur, India, which still can be used today. While the observatory was commissioned primarily for astrological purposes, as was often the case until relatively recently, the line between science and pseudoscience was thin and blurry. The entire complex is a mixture of wonderful architecture and applied geometry, to record the positions of various celestial objects.

As regular readers of this blog know, I often think about the beauty that can be found in the scientific enterprise. Not all scientific instruments are as obviously aesthetic as Jantar Mantar, though I think many of them have a beauty of their own. I find it interesting that we (at least in modern culture) often regard technology to be most beautiful when it isn’t obviously technological. Jantar Mantar is so wonderfully geometrical, it looks like a work of art rather than a sophisticated scientific instrument. But consider also the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin, which was built to be architecturally elegant while it’s far more obviously a telescope dome. I imagine they get many visitors there just to look at the building, even without the huge telescope inside. Continue reading ‘Beauty from Technology’

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