Perfect Lovers

This image was drawn by Dutch physicist, Christaan Huygens, inventor of the first highly accurate timepiece: the pendulum clock. Intended to revolutionise maritime navigation, he planned two would be hung from the mast of a boat, in case one failed. Unfortunately, he fell very ill, stuck in bed with his invention on a wooden beam beside him. Consequently he was able to notice that the two clocks would always synchronise with each other exactly, but fall out of time when separated (an effect he described as an “odd sympathy”). This led to the fascinating discovery of spontaneous synchronisation, the phenomenon which allows our hearts to beat in rhythm.

The title beneath it is from a work by Félix Gonzalez-Torres, which features two synchronised wall-clocks, side by side. An artist concerned with queer love and the AIDS crisis, the work has been interpreted to reference the mirroring within gay relationships (“homos/sexuality” literally meaning “same/love”) and his partner‘s terminality, being very ill with AIDS at the time.
This collage of two stories, nearly 350 years apart, brings out the romance in physics and the physics in romance.