Signals and Noises

The Dynamics of Storage Rings

Nuclear physicists use storage rings to maintain a stream of sub-atomic particles in a more or less orderly state before flinging them violently against each other to observe the splattered remains of the collision—in the process providing new insights into the nature of matter and energy. A pair of iterated equations called the standard map (or Chirikov map) is a useful generalization and simplification of the dynamics of the particles in the ring. It makes an interesting study of chaotic dynamics in its own right. The standard map is the same nonlinear system that drives Clang and Slot.

In The Dynamics of Storage Rings, the computer iterates the equations of the standard map over and over, each iteration adding a point in the so-called "phase space" depicted on the screen. Simultaneously, each point is mapped into an "instrument space" consisting primarily of percussion sounds. Periodically the software stops the current iteration sequence and starts a new one, allowing the accumulation of points from the old sequence to fade from view. These short videos are excerpts from two much longer runs.