The three body problem

Three little sketches on Stillman and Birns beta paper all in conte crayon, the first with a smear of watercolour beneath, the others with graphite layered beneath and on top.  The first was done in nearby fields, the second the view from the North Norfolk coastal path across the marsh to distant woods, the third looking back inland.

The Three Body Problem is a novel by Liu Cixin translated from the Chinese.  Its origin is embedded in the vicious mindlessness of the Cultural Revolution and it allows us 450 years to plan for the inevitable end of our species.


The three body problem refers to the analysis of motion of three massive bodies in a gravitational relationship to one another, like the Earth, Moon and Sun.  According to the narrative, and reinforced by a quick Wikipedia search, the mathematics of universal gravitation and the laws of motion cannot provide general solution to determine the behaviour of the bodies, predicting their location at any fixed point in time given particular starting conditions.  It is a chaotic system.

For The Earth Had Circled The Sun Yet Another Year

Pen and conte crayon on brown paper, with layered crayon and brushpen.

Pencil on brown paper does not show up well without digital enhancement, even with crayon scraped across it leaving the lines visible beneath.

Posted listening to a piano selection, starting with Philip Glass “Etude no. 2”, then Poppy Ackroyd “Birdwoman” then A Winged Victory for the Sullen “We Played Some Open Chords and Rejoiced For The Earth Had Circled The Sun Yet Another Year”.