Through many centuries of our species existence, comprehension of the known universe has developed and revealed a construct that is inert to our survival: pattern recognition. This profound skill that transcends the duration of our independent life cycles has allowed us to understand the cosmos from the Ptolemy Geocentric Model to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. In understanding the relationship between the stars and us, further development of our cognition has created laws that seem to be impossible to share a universal coexistence between the models of Astrophysics and Quantum Mechanics.
Planetariums are one of the most recent forms of communication to aid the proliferation of how we as humans have been shaped by the universe in which we live. Somewhat Empty Space is a planetarium that branches from the paradigm of ancient civilizations that mapped out stars, solar and moon cycles, and touches base with modern planetarium typology.
The site in which this project is located is inside the Barringer Crater (Meteor Crater) in Winslow, Arizona. This is an impact crater that was created nearly 50,000 years ago and is one of the best-preserved craters today. The crater itself has a diameter of about 3891 feet and a depth of about 560 feet.
As a formal gesture to combine the notions of Quantum Mechanics and Astrophysics, the hybridization of Bohr’s Atomic model and Einstein’s fabric of Space-time was the driver of inspiration to conceive this planetarium.
In the realm of space-time, we understand that space and time is a distorted fabric that is bent by objects. As for the atomic scale, all atoms are nearly comprised of empty space. To further these ideas, the energy levels in the Bohr diagram were translated as one continuous ramp that spirals around the rim of the crater towards the object at the center. The site itself represents the space time fabric in which the central object is the causation of distortion.
Historically, Barringer Crater was specifically chosen as a reference to Clair Patterson. Clair Patterson was a geochemist who developed the method of uranium-lead dating which lead to one of our greatest achievements: determining the age of the earth. With this method, he used the Canyon Diablo meteorite (meteorite that caused the Barringer Crater) to figure out the age of our planet. As a tribute to Patterson, the Bohr’s Atomic model of Uranium was used. These 92 electrons were then formed to create the locations of specific spaces that appeared to orbit around the central object.
Of the 92 spaces surrounding the center sphere, there are exhibits, visible and infrared telescopes, contemplation spaces, as well as classrooms. To get from one space to another, the visitor embarks on a journey through the orbital promenade to get to the center of the crater. The spaces in the spiral orbit are organized through a chronological timeline of events and discoveries that helped shape our understanding of the cosmos.