When Science and Art Collide: A Literal Muscle Car

Science, the apocalypse, and teaching / Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

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When Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony joined forces in 1999 to record the live album S&M (Symphony & Metallica), it surprised their respective fan bases because the genres seemed so disparate. When interviewed, the symphony’s conductor defended the project saying in effect that on a good day, heavy metal and orchestral music are not very far apart.

That truth has always resonated with me, because many scientists likely see connections where others may not. I propose that on a good day, science and art are not very far apart. As a fan of all things powerful including skeletal muscle and performance cars, I always thought it would be bizarre and intriguing to marry the two in an artistic rendering. What if a muscle car were literally made of muscle?

The concept provided a bit of a challenge in that muscle is often rounded, so getting biological tissue to conform to the shape of an automobile was vexing at times. The body style is that of a 1972 Chevy Nova, which I happen to own.

Although there are things I would have done differently in this first, mixed-media attempt, I’m satisfied with the outcome. The body of the car is wrapped in skeletal muscle. The headlights are patellae (i.e., kneecaps). The bumper is a stylized rib, with the air dam being a hyoid bone. Drawing upon my being a physical therapist and exercise physiologist, the wheels are 45-pound weight plates. The windows are provided by fascia, the connective tissue that wraps skeletal muscle. Finally, the grill subtly hints at representing a sarcomere, the smallest contractile unit of muscle.


Copyright 2017 Greg E. Popovich

I hope someone gets a kick out of my madness and is inspired to connect their own dots in a unique way. As for me, I think I’ll go play with my car, a hobby of which I never tire. 😉

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