Olden Times



Early Greek and Indian Philosophers believed all matter was composed of extremely small indivisible balls.  Democritus (c.470 BC - c.360 BC) called these balls "atoms".


Quite A Few Years Later... 


Leonhard Euler, a mathematician, began plucking the mysterious strings of sub atomic space with his Beta function (aka the "Euler integral"). Euler was quite famous and prolific in his day, but it was not until 1968 that physicist Gabriele Veneziano realized Euler's mathematical function had, in its logical way, opened the door to a wondrous world composed of tiny strings instead of tiny dots. 


But let us return, for a moment, to the beginning of the 20th century. 


Albert Einstein revealed many secrets of the universe, and it would not be appropriate to discuss them all here. Most relevant for us, is his Theory of Relativity wherein Einstein envisioned space as fabric like: shaped by the gravitational force into beautiful warps and curves.

Physicists in the early 20th century also worked with "Quantum Theory" which was imperfect but a giant leap nonetheless in the field of sub-atomic space. Einstein was not a fan of this new branch of theoretical physics, as its wildly random messiness was at odds with his own elegant notions of space and time. He wrote "I, at any rate, am convinced that He (God) does not throw dice" in a letter to fellow physicist Max Born dated 1926, and made several variations on this statement throughout his life. 

Sadly, the explosion of scientific research in the early part of the 20th century led, in part, to the development of the nuclear bomb. 



It was not so long ago, that the average person believed in only three spatial dimensions and one time dimension. However, during the 20th century, some notable physicists argued that simply because we can not see certain dimensions does not mean they are not there.

In 1921, mathematician Theodor Kaluza, and physicist Oscar Klein, proposed a theory that extended Einstein’s theory of general relativity to include one extra spatial dimension.  This theory is known, not surprisingly, as the Kaluza-Klein Theory. Klein later imagined this dimension would be a wildly minuscule curled up space. Most significantly however, their cutting edge theory called for only a minimum of four spatial dimensions with an indefinite maximum number, foreshadowing deepening chasms of undetected space...


In the later part of the 20th century, it became obvious that if reality was indeed composed of tiny filaments instead of tiny dots, these threads would need extra spatial dimensions in order to adequately knit up into our material world. This Calabi-Yau Manifold was an early model for six dimensional space. Unfortunately, with many different versions, scientists had no way of knowing which was the right model. Calabi-Yau spaces were named in 1984 after mathematicians Eugenio Calabi and Shing-Tung Yau, who had been investigating these destinations well before they appeared relevant to our cause.



Caroline Byrne was only 4 years old when she drew this early illustration of a Photon Articulator.  It was 1980 and research was underway in the field of sub atomic matter.  You can find an exact replica of this illustration at our Museum. 


Edward Witten was the leading physicist of the day. When, in the 1990’s, theories of sub atomic strings were everywhere and nowhere, he came to the rescue with the unifying “M-theory”.  Witten, in a sense, molded together various theories of strings, creating not only loops, but blobs and disks which he called “branes”.  His findings were really too strange to explain in this blurb. 

Most shockingly, he concluded that we must be living in a world of ten spatial dimensions, which adding on the necessary time dimension of course, created a total of eleven dimensions.



At exactly the same time, Daina Taimina, a famous turn of the century mathematician, crocheted amorphous objects to illustrate “hyperbolic” or negatively curved space. Note the similarity between both the Calabi-Yau Manifold and the knit Photon Articulator. Taimina was likely an early inspiration for Caroline Byrne as she was an example of a mathematician who had used her passion for beauty and her knowledge of textiles to guide her models.

She was teaching at Cornell during the same period that Byrne was studying there. While many scholars believe their paths must have crossed, this is highly unlikely: Taimina was not well known at the time and Byrne was a lowly undergrad who received a C- in the one math class that was required of her.



 Between 1994 and 1998 Caroline Byrne studied at Cornell University. She had a difficult time earning her Bachelors of Science Degree in Textiles and Apparel within The College of Human Ecology. Passionate but unfocused and more interested in her fiction classes; it would be years before Byrne could conceive of her true calling.  Still, these early studies of molecular fiber structures and fabric development were significant for obvious reasons. 

By the end of the 1990's Caroline Byrne was well into her "lost 20's", and living in New York City.  She often worked as a “Specification Technician” in the clothing industry. Measuring shirts and pants (and occasionally jackets) was dull but comforting work; the numbers and basic math involved suggested order must exist within the seemingly convoluted world.

It is impossible to imagine her life in New York without also envisioning the young Albert Einstein in Bern, Switzerland: inconspicuosly evaluating patent applications for electromagnetic devices.



Caroline Byrne's tedious days measuring were balanced by her monotonous nights spinning yarn.  Yarn was Byrne's all encompasing obsession in the beginning of the 21st century. She was likely influenced by both the "DIY" trend of the times, and a more personal antagonism toward the clothing industry and her city life.  In these two yarns, especially the one on the left, it is easy to see how she played with the forces of energy hidden in the strands rather than try to control them.  This characteristic would later prove to be integral in her approach toward knitting the Photon Articulator. 


In 2008, Caroline Byrne fled to the woods of Vermont and created these baskets.  Note the similarity between them and the Photon Articulator she created a year later; her fascination with light, symmetry, and mischievious hiding dimensions was quite apparent at this point. We believe her friend Tarrah Krajnak took this striking picture. 



Physicist Ronald Mallett realized the value of light shaping devices several years before Caroline Byrne.  In his “Space Time Twisting by Light” experiment, He suggests it is possible to create a closed time-like curve by using light that has been twisted by being passed though a photonic crystal. In retrospect, we wonder if the “Photon Articulator” was inspired by “Photonic Crystal”?  These illuminating instruments can be found in nature (Opals would make a fine example) or manufactured. 



Here Caroline Byrne is busy at work in her studio at The Cranbrook Academy of Art where she attended Graduate School between 2009 and 2011.  You can see both early prototypes for the Photon Articulator and the various textbooks she read voraciously.  A piece of her pre-articulator "Photon Fabric" can be found at the Photon Articulator Museum. 



 Click on image for another look at the Photon Articulator!

Unfortunately, the original Photon Articulator has been lost forever. We do know it was knit by hand with the finest of monofilaments. Historians conclude dimensions were approximately 16"x 24"x 12" and it weighed no more than seven ounces. It was created in December of 2009, at the end of Byrne's first semester at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. 


For 11 years, the Photon Articulator languished in obscurity, and Caroline Byrne was forced to turn her attention to other work she was less qualified for. 


Then, on April 17th, 2022, at 3:35pm Central European Time, strangely heavy particles were detected at the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva, Switzerland. Shortly thereafter, the as yet unheard of Photon Articulator experienced a burst of popularity, as its super-symmetric form accurately illustrated both time and space.   


       Click image above for larger view!!!  

Caroline Byrne's Patent Application was finally accepted on January 6th, 2023. You can find an exact replica at our Museum. 



Within a few short months, Byrne's illustrations, plans, and private journals were published, garnering critical and popular support. In the Spring of 2024, she received an honorary Doctorate degree from the California Institute of Technology.

The awe inspiring Giant Articulator was made by volunteer knitters for the 25th Anniversary Celebration. Closing day festivities were marred when a particularly bold guest attempted to crawl into the elusive central vortex, seriously injuring himself and the two others who attempted rescuing him. 



On May 17th, 2045, the "Camp of the Crystal Strings" commits a mass suicide, leaving 17 people dead. Although the Camp was a lone extremist faction whose radical visions actually contradicted Caroline Byrne's own detached though amicable skepticism, the Tragedy brought unwanted media attention to the Photon Articulator Society. 

Fortunately, the chaotic aftermath had a silver lining... And in November of that terrible year, a sympathetic and anonymous donor secured funds for the start up of our museum...

This vintage viewing devices station was one of our first attractions; it is currently on display at our museum. 




Our first gift shop, times have changed! but we try to keep the original spirit of the place. 

Click image above to explore more!