Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Am Become Death

The photography class that I am taking was supposed to take a field trip to Cades Cove today but it was called on account of rain. Lot's of rain. Rain, rain, rain. Alexis had already planned a shopping day in Pigeon Forge with the two boys since I was going to be gone, so I made a field trip of my own to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN.

Shots of a plasma ball. I did them with a slow shutter speed (1.6" with an f-stop of 11) to get a bit of glow. These turned out good but the overhead lights really kept me from getting the whole shot without having reflections on the glass. I'm going to have to see if I can get in first thing one Saturday and convince them to turn off the lights in this room before anyone else gets there. Those would be amazing.

Similar to a plasma ball, this is a disk where the electrical charges will react to wherever you touch on the disk. I liked the lightning look.
Old cold miners hat with acetylene lamp (I think it was acetylene). Can you imagine working in deep dark mines wearing only this for light? Sorry about the reflections, it was stored in a glass enclosure. I even used a polarizing filter to minimize reflections.
These ornamental looking things are actually modern day drill tips used for drilling for oil.
They have a very cool model of a offshore drilling rig that is amazing. Here I took two shots of the same picture, only shifting focus from background (left) to the foreground (right).
Cut away view of an internal combustion engine. This was one of the few displays that actually got any natural light so I wanted to take advantage of that.
Self portrait in a parabolic solar dish that is used to collect solar light (not a solar energy panel, it actually funnels light into tubes that light up inside). Yes I am wearing my mp3 player ear buds. I have to have music playing when shooting.Spinning model of an atom.Why so glum, Mr. Nuclear Energy Worker?Oh, your right hand fell off? That sucks pretty bad. I guess radiation poisoning will do that to ya! (Funny thing is, the same glove has been off for over a year now...don't think the curator has noticed yet.)
Pretty pattern don't you think? Can you guess what it is?
How about this one?
Now? Still can't figure out what this has to do with "energy"?Still nothing? Ok, think "sudden release of energy". You're staring down the wrong end of a 1,900 lb short range attack missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.Exact replica of the bomb that was detonated over Hiroshima. The uranium-235 used in it was produced here and the United States nuclear weapons fuel is stockpiled at the Y-12 plant.
Mark 28 bomb, our first thermonuclear device, "kicking it up a notch" as Emeril would say.
Visiting this museum always astounds me with our creative ability to take thisrevise it into the worlds largest building (at the time) full of rudimentary controls like this
and create something like this

I am NOT going to go into the politics and morality of it. I think we did what had to be done. But it is an odd mix of pride in our (humankind's...not just the US) ability to create something like it and shame in our having created the necessity for it.

The post title? It's from a Hindu scripture of which Robert Oppenheimer later said he was reminded of after overseeing the development of the atomic bomb. "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."


  1. Wicked cool title! Loved the energy of the plasma shots. Not a bad self image either. As for the Nuclear Warhead, this dead head will remain strangely quiet on that subject. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. Oh trust me, Indigo, I'm not saying nuclear weapons are/ever were a good thing. My point was regardless of WHY we did it, HOW we got into the war, or any of that....fact is that on that August 6th, 70,000 humans died and up to another 70,000 died later as a result. That is why I can't visit AMSE without leaving in a somber, reflective mood.

  3. When you were taking your self portrait did you tell yourself " Ok your are in a desert, you are hot, look pouty, come on baby sexy sexy... that's it! Perfect" ???

    I thought so ; )

    Great pics!

  4. Your class goes to interesting places for taking shots...speaking of taking shots " self portrait " SHUTTTTTTTTTTTUP!
    great job!

  5. That must be one cool museum.
    Love the shots.

  6. Sarah: Yeah, but the Security Guard got peeved when I tried to "make love to the camera, baby".

    TJ: Actually this was not the class, it was just my pick. The class trip was canceled.

    Nicole: Yeah, especially the hands on section for the kids. I'm still working on the scavenger hunt:)

    Renee: tyvm!

  7. I am from Knoxville, grew up in Oak Ridge. They did what had to be done. I do what I have to do. So does everyone else. Love the photos. Thanks.

  8. Those top pictures, I just want to slink my hand in and through the lights. You know, just to cope a feel.
    You have to listen to music while shooting pictures? Maybe it's like I have to listen to music while I write. Creative flow needs a partner.

  9. Wow, those plasma shots are real cool!
    Colby McLemore

  10. Jeeze Chris, you look like you've lost a ton of weight. Or that glass is messing with me. LOL

  11. Judy C - Thanks for visiting! I'll have to check your blogs out too.

    Rebecca Anne - Brandi and I were chatting about that this morning and I told her another reason is it makes people not bother me when I'm off in my little world. I said it was like wearing a T-shirt that says "Don't Bother Me A**hole" :)

    Colby - Those were the first shots I took. If only I could get them to cut the overhead lights off, then we could get some REALLY good shots of the whole globe. Would a diffuser overhead work instead?

    Becky - A little of both. I mysteriously lost 12 pounds in a month (Dec-Jan) but it's slowly coming back. But that mirror was tricky!

  12. I love the plasma shots too! What an interesting post. You sure visit some fascinating places!

  13. Lots of cool shots there. I like the plasma ball ones and the spinning atom the best, though. Isn't it wonderful how looking for the shot focuses the mind on things it would otherwise miss?

  14. Those plasma shots are awesome.

    The museum looks like a place my husband would love to visit. My dad lives a few minutes out of Oak Ridge. Maybe we'll go the next time we visit him.