The Einstein Window

10 julio 2007

Located in Grace Cathedral (San Francisco) we can find the only stained glass window in the world representing Albert Einstein. The sixteen-foot tall window, showing the prominent shock-haired figure and his famed formula, has become one of the cathedral "sights", sought out by both tourists and local visitors. The stained glass was completed in the mid 1960s, and Einstein was chosen to represent Natural Science in a twelve-window nave clerestory series called Human Endeavor.

The window shows a caped Einstein gazing upward, surrounded by electron orbitals and nuclear particle paths. At the top, the tail burn of a rocket blasts past the cratered lunar surface, expressing Einstein's impact on astronomy and cosmology, and the new space frontier of the 1960s (the Exploration/John Glenn window is opposite). At upper center, in red, is a portion of the Lorentz transformation, the square root of v/c, reconciling the fixed speed of light with differing inertial frames. At bottom left is an idealized helium atom, reminding us of Einstein's groundbreaking insights on nuclear physics, and his serious concerns about the misuse of atomic power.

The astronomer

Click to enlargeAnother weird stained glass window is located at the Unitarian Universalist church in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This window represents Clyde Tombaugh, the American astronomer who discovered the dwarf planet Pluto in 1930. Ironically, after the years, Pluto is no longer a planet, but Tombaugh is still in his window.