The Extraterrestrial Dowsing Stick
by Thomas Marcusson
The search for water has been essential throughout human history. Whether digging for wells or searching for alien life, the pursuit of H2O, that elusive molecule so closely linked with life, often takes on a mystical aspect. Juxtaposing this with mankind's almost quixotic search for extraterrestrial water (and thereby life) created a nexus between science and culture that I was curious to explore.
The Extraterrestrial Dowsing Stick is an interactive artwork that divines water beyond our planet. Suspended by strings, the stick changes direction every 30 seconds and fixes on planets where we think H2O might exist. Such places include Mars or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, as well as a number of exoplanets outside our solar system that reside in the "Goldilocks zone," neither too warm nor too cold for hosting liquid water.
The motors are controlled by an Arduino chip which can calculate the exact position of the planets in real-time relative to time and position of the artwork itself (longitude, latitude).
Seeing the dowsing stick twisting and turning reminds us how our yearning for discovery, especially in relation to life in various forms, has stayed with us throughout the ages.