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Circular Wave Systems

Major collection: Architecture & Design
Named collection: Berenice Abbott Collection
Object type: photograph
Maker: Abbott, Berenice
Date made: 1958-61
Materials: photograph; masonite
Measurements: 18 1/2 in x 21 3/4 in x 1 1/2 in; 47 cm x 55 cm x 4 cm; 1 1/2 in

two point light source, motion of waves within a ripple tank (inspired by Man Ray's Rayograms) In 1956, Professors Jerrold Zacharias and Francis Friedman convened a group of high school and university science teachers to discuss the state of physics education. Barely a year later, the launch of the Sputnik satellite prompted the U.S. government to focus time and money on reforming basic science education, boosting support for the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) and enabling it to become a nationwide program. The PSSC produced textbooks, films, experimental apparatus, and auxiliary materials for high school classrooms, emphasizing a hands-on, experimental approach to physics. Everything about the project was outstanding--from the high-quality cinematography of the films to the exceptional photographs that accompanied the main textbook. The Smithsonian Institution even created a traveling exhibition of Berenice Abbott's striking project photographs, including this image, extending the influence of what is considered the largest and most important reform of U.S. high school physics instruction. [MIT 150 Exhbition label text]


Berenice Abbott Collection, MIT Museum, Gift of Ronald and Carol Kurtz

Related People

thumbnail Abbott, Berenice