Not only Art but also Rocket Science

S.J. Spencer
Proceedings of Bridges 2016: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Education, Culture (2016)
Pages 203–208


A few years ago I presented a paper exploring ways that Newton’s method for solving equations could be used to create or modify images. I was very pleased with the images so produced [1]. I decided to write a software framework that would allow me to explore various systems of attractors and repellors. This year is the 350th anniversary of the apple falling on Newton’s head. I thought it appropriate, therefore, to base my first experiment on rocket science. The earliest rockets were probably developed in China during the 13th century for warfare and celebration. The beginnings of the mathematical treatment of rocket science began in 1666. A young Isaac Newton had returned to Lincolnshire from Cambridge University because of the great plague. He speculated that the force attracting the apple to fall to earth was the same force that kept the moon orbiting the earth. This paper explores ways of applying Newton’s laws of motion and gravity to the creation and modification of pictures. The chaotic nature of such pictures is also explored.