Academic Insight

Working together

Reinhard Reitzenstein’s Atom Corral

Reinhard Reitzenstein’s Atom Corral depicts the electron probability cloud for a giant two-atom rubidium molecule.

In the lobby of UB’s Fronczak Hall, a unique marriage is taking place through a new “Physics and Arts Exhibition.”

This permanent exhibition uses visual arts and interactive displays to encourage nonscientists to understand and celebrate the discipline of physics in a nonintimidating and entertaining way.

“A physics exhibition that uses art is a formidable vehicle to make this ‘hard science’ more accessible and less intimidating to wider audiences,” says Doreen Wackeroth, UB assistant professor of physics and a member of the team that created the exhibition. Several original works of art were created for the exhibition, among them the bronze Atom Corral by Reinhard Reitzenstein, assistant professor of visual studies. It is a dramatic, abstract, three-dimensional replica of an “atom corral,” which is a visualization of the electron probability cloud for a giant two-atom rubidium molecule.

Other items featured include a Foucault Pendulum, named after the French physicist Jean-Bernard-Léon Foucault. It is the only instrument that can demonstrate without access to the sky that the earth is rotating. The weight at the bottom of this pendulum was designed by Reitzenstein in the shape of an electron orbital. It takes about 35 hours to oscillate in a complete circle.