Public Lecture

Fieldwork in Art and Astrophysics - Discerning Signal from Noise at the South Pole

Professor Donald Fortescue
California College of Arts

Donald spent the austral summer of 2016/17 in Antarctica as a US National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Fellow. At the South Pole, he worked in collaboration with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory—a giant array of photon detectors buried miles under the polar ice.

The Observatory was built to detect high energy cosmogenic neutrinos which very occasionally interact with atomic nuclei in the ice and generate a tiny flash of light. Many other subatomic interactions create similar flashes and the scientists have developed ingenious strategies to distinguish the sought after signals from the sea of noise.

Donald constructed his own instruments to deploy at the pole and used these to make parallel inquiries into the connections between noise and signal. He also collaborated with IceCube scientists to develop new ways of perceiving data from the Observatory.

Donald Fortescue is a Professor of Art and Design at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco and a PhD candidate in the School of Art and Design at ANU His research explores congruencies between the methodologies, aspirations and limits of science and art.

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