Ahura Mazda/Angra Mainyu

Anodized aluminum (electronic heat-sinks)
5" x 5.25" x 4.5"
6" x 7" x 3"

Ahura Mazda is the god of Zoroastrianism (from ancient Persia, now Iran.) Zoroaster was one of the first monotheists; his Ahura Mazda was the one true god, bringer of both light and darkness. Ahura Mazda had various personified aspects, and darkness and evil was personified as Angra Mainyu. As Zoroastrianism evolved, Angra Mainyu was elevated to a near-equal of Ahura Mazda, and Zoroastrianism became the most purely dualistic religion that I know of.

Ever since I the time I first heard of Zoroastrianism when I was 13, I have thought that seeing the universe as the battleground of two evenly matched gods of good and evil explained a lot more about the way things are than does monotheism. Perhaps the Greek view of numerous squabbling gods is even better, but not so economical.

I think that Evil must remain a part of our vocabulary. Without it, doing good is a wimpy concept.

Another fascinating aspect of this sculpture is that it is just two electronic heat-sinks. These finned hunks of aluminum are designed to carry heat away from the vital innards of industrial power electronics. They were both designed by a nominally rational and utilitarian process for basically the same function, yet they look so different. Why?

First, know that quality heat sinks are normally black because they radiate heat better. However heavy-duty heat sinks like these are used with fan cooling, which greatly increases the heat transfer to the air, and makes direct radiation of heat relatively unimportant. So they really could be any color. Color then becomes basically an aesthetic (or marketing) decision. Black is conventional, and won't offend anyone. Gold might jazz up your product and increase your sales. If you are cheap, you could use bare aluminum, but that might look, well, cheap...

There's more to the iconic difference than just color, though. Those horns and diagonal fins definitely make Angra Mainyu the Darth Vader of heat-sinks. The basic shape difference comes from the requirements of the thing to be cooled. The sun-disk on Ahura Mazda is a smoothed area where a round semiconductor device is mounted. The central placement leads naturally to a pleasing radial symmetry. I don't know why the symmetry is broken by the different fin lengths on top and bottom v.s. sides, but it does add to the visual interest.

In contrast, Angra Mainyu appears to have been made to cool a rectangular package bolted onto its one flat face. The two fat arms are an attempt to most effectively remove the heat from the hot-spot in the center Even high-power semiconductors can be fairly small, and this makes heat-removal a challenge.

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