After Sfera Con Sfera, the golden ball that resides outside the Berkeley Library, Apples and Atoms is perhaps the most recognisable piece of art on the Trinity campus. Erected in 2013, the sculpture was commissioned to honour Trinity alumnus Ernest T. S. Walton and the 80th anniversary of Walton and his colleague John D. Cockcroft’s most significant experiment; the splitting of the atom, the first ever demonstration of Einstein’s famous E=mc2 equation. This and the apple trees which are reflected in the work’s surface give the sculpture its name.
Apples and Atoms invites interaction, a testament to which can be found in the muddy footprints dotted around the steel plinth where the sculpture sits. Many a goofy picture has been taken in its reflective and distorting surface. Nature also plays a role in affecting the work, with clear skies turning the sculpture’s surface a bright blue and additional tiny spheres being added in the form of raindrops.
Like Trinity’s own Science Gallery, located just around the corner from this towering stainless steel structure, Apples and Atoms represents the merging of science and art. The sculptor, Eilis O’Connell, has stated that she was inspired in part by the minimal line drawings Walton sketched to help him understand and explain his work. Standing at a literal crossroads, the unification of the spheres of art and science are reinforced by the sculpture’s surface, in which both the Science and Arts and Humanities sides of campus can be seen.