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Nov
2nd
Sat
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Q: Is there a line between art and science, and where does it start to blur?

Cormac McCarthy: “There’s certainly an aesthetic to mathematics and science. It was one of the ways Paul Dirac got in trouble. He was one of the great physicists of the 20th century. But he really believed, as other physicists did, that given the choice between something which was logical and something which was beautiful, they would opt for the aesthetic as being more likely to be true.

When [Richard] Feynman put together his updated version of quantum electrodynamics, Dirac didn’t think it was true because it was ugly. It was messy. It didn’t have the clarity, the elegance, that he associated with great mathematical or physical theory. But he was wrong. There’s no one formula for it.” “
Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, interviewed by John Jurgensen in Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009.
May
28th
Mon
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The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.
Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science (1854-1912), The Value of Science, Cosimo, Inc., 2007, p.8.
May
9th
Wed
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The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.
G. H. Hardy, was a prominent English mathematician, known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis (1877-1947), A Mathematician’s Apology (1941)
Oct
1st
Sat
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Beauty is a particularly potent and intense form of curiosity. It’s a learning signal urging us to keep on paying attention, an emotional reminder that there’s something here worth figuring out. (…)

The beauty keeps us from looking away, tickling those dopaminergic neurons and dorsal hairs. Like curiosity, beauty is a motivational force, an emotional reaction not to the perfect or the complete, but to the imperfect and incomplete. We know just enough to know that we want to know more; there is something here, we just don’t what. That’s why we call it beautiful.
Jonah Lehrer, American journalist who writes on the topics of psychology, neuroscience, and the relationship between science and the humanities, ☞ Why Does Beauty Exist?, Wired science, July 18, 2011
Aug
5th
Fri
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Beauty is nature’s way of acting at a distance.
Denis Dutton, academic, web entrepreneur. He was a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, (1944-2010), ☞ Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty
Jul
15th
Fri
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Chris Gruhl: ‘Art is about creating a moment that people remember’

Henri Cartier-Bresson, “Hyeres, France, 1932″

“Why do people consider this photo a masterpiece? Why do people still consider Shakespeare a masterpiece after so many years for that matter? Depth, thought, more though, ageless relevance to the human condition, an appeal to emotion, relevance to our humanity, something that unveils our cruelty or encapsulates our love.

Art is about creating a moment that people remember.

The art will be relevant as long as people remember it.
Art that is remembered so well that generations seek to pass it along become classics and define new styles and ideas and inspire the following generations of artists.

Sometimes art is great because it is “first” and “paradigm shifting” but that tends to require study to understand and feel the impact of. The greatest art stands alone and even untitled through the ages and still strongly effects the people who come in contact with it. If you turn off your analytical brain and come to a piece with the mind of a child, open, receptive, uncolored by bias or doubt or fear or envy then you will quickly find what it is that makes a piece a classic.

The trick is not comparing it to anything but your soul. That is no mean task. It can shake you to the core of your being. “Modern Man” would rather judge the world he/she perceives than confront his/her deeper self.
Chris Gruhl's (Shadowgolem) comment under a deleted Cartier-Bresson picture. This picture was submitted to the DeleteMe group on Flickr (whose members vote on photos) without any mention to the original author and was very quickly removed by popular vote. The photo was sold at auction in 2008 for $265,000.
Feb
23rd
Wed
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Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.
Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter, draughtsman, and sculptor (1881-1973)
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Richard Feynman and Jirayr Zorthian on science, art and beauty



Richard P. Feynman: “I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is …

I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes.

The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

See also:

Richard Feynman - No Ordinary Genius, BBC Horizon documentary (1993)
Richard Feynman on Beauty, Honours and Curiosity
Richard Feynman on the likelihood of Flying Saucers
Richard Feynman on how we would look for a new law (the key to science)
Richard Feynman on the way nature work: “You don’t like it? Go somewhere else!”
Richard P. Feynman and Jirayr Zorthian, BBC series Horizon, the episode is called "No Ordinary Genius", originally aired in 1993
Nov
5th
Thu
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Life is order, death is disorder. A fundamental law of Nature states that spontaneous chemical changes in the universe tend toward chaos. But life has, during milliards of years of evolution, seemingly contradicted this law. With the aid of energy derived from the sun it has built up the most complicated systems to be found in the universe—living organisms. Living matter is characterized by a high degree of chemical organization on all levels, from the organs of large organisms to the smallest constituents of the cell. The beauty we experience when we enjoy the exquisite form of a flower or a bird is a reflection of a microscopic beauty in the architecture of molecules.
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Everything of beauty in the world has it’s ultimate origins in the human mind. Even a rainbow isn’t beautiful in and of itself.
Eliezer Yudkowsky, American artificial intelligence researcher concerned with the Singularity and an advocate of Friendly Artificial Intelligence.
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To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature … If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in.
Richard Feynman, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (1918-1988)