These Photo Represent the Seven Base Quantities of Physics

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The International System of Quantities defines seven base quantities in physics: length, mass, time, electric current, thermodynamic temperature, amount of substance, and luminous intensity. For his project Base Quantities, photographer Greg White set out to shoot 7 photos representing these 7 fundamental quantities. White, based in London, came up with […]

The International System of Quantities defines seven base quantities in physics: length, mass, time, electric current, thermodynamic temperature, amount of substance, and luminous intensity. For his project Base Quantities, photographer Greg White set out to shoot 7 photos representing these 7 fundamental quantities.

White, based in London, came up with beautiful minimalist ways to convey each of the quantities.

“Captured entirely in camera, this project playfully visualizes using creative photographic techniques the seven base quantities,” White writes.

White says he was inspired by the work of the late American photographer Berenice Abbott, who’s known for shooting photos depicting scientific concepts in the 1940s to 1960s.

“We live in a world made by science,” Abbott wrote in her April 1939 manifesto titled Photography and Science. “There needs to be a friendly interpreter between science and the layman. I believe photography can be this spokesman, as no other form of expression can be.”

Length. “Length is a measure of distance. In the International System of Quantities, length is a quantity with dimension distance. Length is commonly understood to mean the most extended dimension of a fixed object. However, this is not always the case and may depend on the position the object is in.”
Mass. “Mass is both a property of a physical body and a measure of its resistance to acceleration (a change in its state of motion) when a net force is applied. An object’s mass also determines the strength of its gravitational attraction to other bodies.”
Time. “Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.”
Electric Current. “An electric current is a flow of electric charge in a circuit. More specifically, the electric current is the rate of charge flow past a given point in an electric circuit.”
Thermodynamic Temperature. “Thermodynamic temperature is defined by the third law of thermodynamics in which the theoretically lowest temperature is the zero point. At this point, absolute zero, the particle constituents of matter have minimal motion and can become no colder.”
Amount of Substance. “Amount of substance is a measure of the size of an ensemble of elementary entities, like a collection of atoms, molecules or other particles.”
Luminous Intensity. “Luminous intensity is a measure of the wavelength-weighted power emitted by a light source in a particular direction per unit solid angle, based on the luminosity function, a standardized model of the sensitivity of the human eye.”

“I wanted the images to only show something through a technique, so for instance without the motion of an object it would appear completely different or without the strobe again it would be different and not be representational of the concept,” White tells Colossal. “A lot of the techniques involved (the) motion of an object captured over a long exposure. Some additionally have a strobe effect during the long exposure, others use multiple exposures while shifting the lens for instance, or simply incorporating simple props/fx to distort or reveal a notion.”

You can find more of White’s work on his website and Instagram.


Image credits: Photographs by Greg White and used with permission

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