Eccentric orbits

Eccentric Orbits

Piece description from the artist

Round and round and round they go, wobbling and bouncing in unstable eccentric orbits. A planetary fantasy that is also inspired by X-ray diffraction and scattering diagrams. For me, in my mind, the two ideas are inextricably intertwined.

The very large scale and the very small scale often oddly resemble one another. However for me their connection is more personal experience. When I was in grad school I'd work on writing and data analysis and diagramming during the day. At night the X-ray labs and electron microscope labs were quiet – it was possible to score the large blocks of time needed for complicated characterization of difficult and delicate samples.

So I'd head back to the labs after supper and work until well past midnight, in rooms kept darker than the night outside (to help see faint flickering hints of data and catch it, to protect the specialized films and detection equipment, etc). And I'd emerge into darkened hallways after even the night cleaning crews had left, and then out squinting into the night to find my way home.

I always enjoyed astronomy, and brought my telescopes with me to grad school (along with a few long-suffering tomato plants). The first thing I'd look at after emerging from the pitch dark labs and stumbling down the darkened hallways was the sky – the bright starlit night sky.

Often I'd have just spent hours trying to capture and "read" different types of diffraction patterns – electron diffraction and X-ray diffraction. And I'd step outside, look up, and start trying to make sense out of the stars. Their lack of sensible diffraction pattern symmetry would frustrate me for whole seconds before I'd realize that it is not sensible to Miller index the night sky.

That trick of the mind stays with me as a sharp and memorable point in my life. It's a personal reminder that sometimes a change in perspective – and the ability to shift one's mindset – is more meaningful than oodles of specific technical brilliance.

Other works by Regina Valluzzi

About Regina Valluzzi

Waltham, MA

Dr. Regina Valluzzi has an extensive scientific background in nanotechnology and biophysics. She has been a scientist in the chemical industry, a green chemistry researcher, a research professor at the engineering school at Tufts, a start-up founder engaged in technology commercialization, and a start-up and commercialization consultant.

Even during periods of intense activity as a scientist, Dr. Valluzzi has always held a strong interest in the visual arts and in visual information. While she majored in Materials Science at MIT, she also obtained a second degree in music and a minor in visual studies. Visual arts have managed to permeate her technical work; during her Ph.D in Polymer Science and Engineering at UMass Amherst, she completed a thesis that required advanced electron microscopy, image analysis, and theoretical data modeling. These experiences provided the visual insight and information that now influences much of her artwork.

Dr. Valluzzi’s work has been included in private collections across the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Dubai and Malta, and in the corporate collection of "Seyfarth Shaw" Boston law offices around Boston. She has a selection of pieces on loan to the MIT Materials Science and Engineering Department as indoor public art. Her accomplishments include having published thirty articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, having made several scientific patents, having been a subject matter expert for an encyclopedia chapter, and having been invited to speak at science talks across the US, Europe, and Japan.

Her newsletter is a good source of ongoing information:

See Regina's portfolio here

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