Week 1: The Wonders of Graphite

In Week 1, Dr. Thomas gave us the gift of educating us about quantum physics and carbon/graphite. He assigned us to draw an object. Like most of my classmates, I drew a chair. I drew it while keeping my mind and body, the direction of my eyes, the angle, space around me, and space around the chair in mind. I had never used this new thought process to draw before. Even though it was just a chair, looking at my drawing, Dr. Thomas deduced that my chair was against a plain background, such as an empty floor. He was correct: my chair was in the middle of the room on an empty carpet floor. I was surprised because I had not said anything about the environment the chair is in. I realized that if my chair was not on an empty floor, my drawing would have been influenced by the surrounding objects. For example, my drawing’s view of the chair is not blocked at all, but if there was a table in front of it, the chair would have been blocked by the table. I found it amazing that such specific facts about an object’s environment could be deduced using the knowledge of space and human vision, even without explicit hints.


Growing up, I had always enjoyed drawing. However, this lecture was the first time in my life that I ever drew while conscious of the physical make-up of the tools I was using -- from the graphite tip of the pencil to the surface of the paper. It was truly eye-opening. I learned so much about the graphite pencil, and I never knew the extent to which science was intertwined with the making of art. I felt that this presentation was the embodiment of the concept of this course: the intertwinement of science and art.


I drew two carbon allotropes: the graphite structure and the diamond structure. I had never drawn a carbon structure, so this drawing was an educational experience. Carbon is truly the building block of life. Without carbon, we would not be able to express ourselves through drawing.


The fascinating thing about the graphite structure in my opinion is the hexagons. What blew my mind during Dr. Thomas’s lecture was when he said that the universe likes hexagons, i.e. atomic structures, turtles’ shells and honeycomb. Come to think of it, in high school chemistry class, everything consisted of hexagons when we drew atomic structures, and a lot of objects in nature consist of hexagons.


I greatly enjoyed learning about carbon allotropes, the graphite structure, space, and quantum physics. I plan to continue drawing with the pencil using the new knowledge I gained.