SCIENCE+ART PROJECT: physics on the Fringe
In 1994 Margaret Wertheim received in the mail a package in which a man named James Carter claimed to have discovered "the secrets of the universe." Carter offered a complete alternative theory of physics encompassing matter, energy, space, time and gravity. According to his "circlon" theory, everything in the world is composed of ring-shaped particles that link together like a kind of subatomic chain-mail. Included in the package was a wall-chart with Carter's alternative explanation for the periodic table, a psychedelic profusion of graphical delight and diagrammatic complexity that called to mind the medieval innovations of Raymon Llull as filtered through an acid trip. So began a twenty year-long journey in which Wertheim has been exploring and interpreting the world of what she has termed "outsider science." One fruit of this endeavor is her book Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons and Alternative Theories of Everything (Walker & Co), the first sociological study of physics outsiders, that places Carter at the center of a fantastical journey into the heart of a strange, growing sub-culture on the margins of modern science. Another outcome of this journey is the documentary film It's Jim's World: We Just Live In It, that Margaret and her former husband, Cameron Allen, wrote and directed together about Carter's life and work.
PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Graphics courtesy of James Carter
- Physics on the Fringe book website here
– The film will be available soon on You Tube. (Film-still, below, of James Carter making smoke rings to test his theory of science, by Cameron Allan.)