Messin’ with Mona

When a masterpiece is needed, who ya gonna call? Mona of course. She’s the go-to cultural icon for a masterpiece, even in the science world.

Beam Me Up Scotty

Known for beaming the mildest of smiles, Mona was laser-beamed into outer space in January of this year.

Unfortunately, she arrived in pieces, or pixels, at a chunk of something called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Not to worry: clever programming put her back together again, all except a white vertical stripe (see image on the right). Art Akimbo thinks the scientifically minded Leonardo as well as Humpty Dumpty would be impressed with NASA. Check out NASA’s description to understand how this experiment represents a major leap for laser communication (if not mankind or art).
Left: how the image arrived. Right: clever programming put Mona back together again.

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Mona

Source: Georgia Tech
Source: Georgia Tech. Image on right: 1/3 width of a human hair

Then in August 2013, Researchers at Georgia Tech “painted” the Mona Lisa on a surface that is one-third the width of a human hair (30 microns, to be exact). This feat represents an advance for future nanomanufacturing – a process very different from ArtAkimbo’s processes! The canvas was a “substrate surface” and the paintbrush an atomic force microscope (things have changed since 1504). Heat was involved (middle image shows how much heat was applied to generate each micro-pixel) and chemical reactions, so perhaps there was some art to the science.

Dem Bones

And in more Mona news, entrepreneurial researchers have been grave digging in Florence, hoping to find bones they can DNA-match conclusively to the model who may have posed for Leonardo. The eventual goal: recreating the face of the model. Read more at The Guardian, including the lively comments on the value of this quest.

Houston, There are Alternatives

Truth is, I like other Leonardo paintings more, like this one and this one, which my high school teacher showed us one day, declaring it to be the one and only Mona Lisa.