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# Swirling patterns in Starry Night are in line with those in Starry Nursery gardens

In 2004 NASA released a picture of the Hubble Space Telescope of turbulent swirls of dusty clouds moving around an oversized star. The agency noted that this "slight echo" to Vincent van Gogh's masterpiece, Starry Night. recalled. Now, two Australian students have mathematically analyzed the painting and come to the conclusion that it has the same turbulent features as molecular clouds (where literal stars are born). They described their work in an article published in the Physics arXiv.

The idea that van Gogh's often disturbed life was reflected in his work is not very new. In a 2014 TED Ed lecture, Natalya used St. Clair, a research fellow of the Concord Consortium and co-author of The Art of Mental Calculation Starry Night (1889) to illuminate the concept of turbulence in one flowing liquid. She spoke in particular about how Van Gogh's technique allowed him (and other impressionist painters) to depict the movement of light over water or in the glitter of stars. We see this as a kind of flickering effect because the eye feels more sensitive to changes in light intensity (a property called luminance) than changes in color.

In physics, turbulence refers to strong, sudden movements in the air or water, usually characterized by vortex and vortex. Physicists have been struggling for centuries to describe turbulence mathematically. It is still one of the big remaining challenges in this area. However, a Russian physicist named Andrei Kolmogorov made considerable progress in the 1940s when he predicted that there would be a mathematical connection (now known as Kolmogorov scaling) between the velocity of a flow over time and the velocity at which it would flow as friction loses energy.

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That is, some turbulent flows have energy cascades, with large vortices transferring some of their energy to smaller vortices. The smaller vortices, in turn, transfer part of their energy to even smaller vortices, and so on, creating a self-similar pattern on many spatial scales. Experimental evidence since then showed that Kolmogorov was not that distant with his prediction. For example, Jupiter has a turbulent big red spot where this type of scaling can be observed.

In particular, the 2004 image of Hubble fascinated a group of physicists from Spain, Mexico and England, led by José Luis Aragón of the National Team Autonomous University of Mexico in Queretaro. Aragón and his colleagues decided to find out if this connection between the turbulence in the dust vortex around a star and the famous Van Gogh painting could be mathematically conserved. They examined digital photographs of various Van Gogh paintings and measured how the brightness fluctuated between any two pixels and calculated the likelihood that two pixels at a given distance would have the same luminance.

They found evidence of something remarkably close to Kolmogorov scaling. not only in Starry Night but also in two other paintings from the same period in van Gogh's life: Wheatfield with Crows and Road with Cypress and Star (both painted in 1890) ). In fact, Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Whistle and Bandaged Ear (1888), painted in a calmer time, shows no signs of this turbulent scaling. Edvard Munch's The Scream (1893).

"We believe Van Gogh had the unique ability to represent turbulence in periods or prolonged psychic arousal," Aragón told Nature's seemingly turbulent paintings of 2006, and find no evidence of Kolmogorov scaling.

In other words, the physicist Marcelo Gleiser wrote on the NPR's 13.7 blog: "Van Gogh's creations during his most turbulent time reflected the turbulent currents of nature as if his mind were connecting to a universal, an archetype where light becomes the Numinus – and the brush of the painter and the brush of nature become one and the same.

This latest work builds on Aragón et al. James Beattie of the Australian National University in Canberra usually examines the structure and dynamics of molecular clouds, he and another student, Neco Kriel of Queensland University Using the same techniques they used in simulating turbulent dynamics, they were able to create 2D maps in three different color channels by selecting a square section in the sky of a digital image of Starry Night

Like Aragón and others they found evidence of turbulent scaling in Starry Night . While the former team found Kolmogorov's scaling – the sub – Turbulent flow, which is based on the convection currents in stars and the Earth's atmosphere – found Beattie and Kr Super- sound turbulence in the molecular gas clouds is studied by Beattie.

"This suggests that Van Gogh's account of the starry night is very similar to the turbulence in real molecular clouds, the birthplace of stars in the universe," the authors write.