I wasn’t expecting an oscilloscope.
The beauty of my Precious Artifacts series is that I never know quite what I’m going to get. It’s always a surprise when someone sends me their photograph and story. That’s all part of the fun, and the challenge.
Noel was the second person to come back to me with his Artifact for painting. An avid blogger and science enthusiast, Noel chose to blog about his subject. Here’s the link to the post with photos of his 1970’s oscilloscope. When I first saw the post, I had a few thoughts:
– What??? Help???? How???
– Which one should I choose for the painting?
– How am I going to make this painting interesting?
– How do I deal with the complexity of all those wires?
Then I thought about Noel’s oscilloscope accompanying story. In his words:
“I love anything to do with science, I have since I was old enough to know what it was. First it was maths, and I ran out of maths books at school. They had to buy a new one for me and my mate. They cut it up and gave us different pages each, a few at a time – so they only needed to buy one book. Weird, perhaps they didn’t reckon on using it too often after we left.
A chemistry set arrived when I was nine – test-tubes of potassium permanganate and various other lovely chemicals, a meths fuelled burner and an asbestos mat. It is a wonder I survived long enough to be able to discover physics at thirteen.
Electronics, in particular fascinated me – this was the time of discrete components, and indeed valves were still around. I built an oscilloscope from a kit – surviving several 240 volt shocks in the process. (I still have the ‘scope, complete with two pentode valves, though the greater sense of self-preservation that comes with age prevents me from firing it up again!)
I have now dusted off the old ‘scope. Still totally fascinated by it, even after forty odd years.”
I realised that Noel’s fascination with science is all about working out the different elements. Then in how they work together and what they do in combination. It’s all about what’s inside:
So that’s what the painting had to reflect. The outside is a conservative, plain black box with the buttons all lined up in neat lines. If you just look at the outside, it all looks quite boring. To see the really good stuff – you have to look inside. That’s where the oscilloscope magic happens!
All The Fun Is Inside by Vandy Massey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.