PERFORMANCE OF NATURE
Knowledge and Science
During the two hundred years that the Dutch were the only Europeans allowed to have trade relations with Japan, they became the country’s main source of Western knowledge and science. From the second half of the eighteenth century, when Japan turned away from its sinocentric world view, rangaku — Dutch science, ‘Hollandology’ — was actually stimulated by the authorities. Reversely, the Netherlands fulfilled a unique role in Europe, in spreading knowledge of the richness and importance of Japanese art and science; which became tremendously popular.
In his essay In Praise of Shadows (1933) the Japanese writer Junichirō Tanizaki (1886–1965) poses the intriguing statement “… how different everything would be if we in the Orient had developed our own physics and chemistry … would they not have suited our national temper better than they do? In fact our conception of physics itself, and even the principles of chemistry, would probably differ from that of Westerners“.
Performance of nature
Inspired by Tanizaki’s statement we will research an alternative way to deal with particle physics; in particular neutrino research. Neutrinos are some of the most abundant yet mysterious particles in the universe. Popularly they’re referred to as ghost particles. Like bullets through mist, they shoot through ordinary matter. Every second some 50 trillion of them fly through our bodies without us even noticing. This characteristic of neutrinos also make them extremely difficult to detect. Which is why neutrino detectors are among the most impressive instruments in science.
Super-Kamiokande is a Neutrino Detection Experiment in Japan. It’s not only one of the most elegant physics experiments in the world, but also one of the most succesful. The observatory yielded its researchers two separate Nobel Prizes in Physics; in 2002 and 2015.
Trinity – an essayistic documentary about the performance of nature
- Photo courtesy of the ICRR (Institute of Cosmic Ray Research), The University of Tokyo.