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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.
Mar
14th
Wed
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“Amidst the attention given to the sciences as how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of mankind, I believe that the biggest breakthrough will be the realization that the arts, which are conventionally considered ‘useless,’ will be recognized as the whole reason why we ever try to live longer or live more prosperously.” “
John Maeda, Japanese-American graphic designer, computer scientist, university professor, and author, cited in The universe will fly like a bird
Mar
11th
Sun
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We now know enough to know that we will never know everything. This is why we need art: it teaches us how to live with mystery. Only the artist can explore the ineffable without offering us an answer, for sometimes there is no answer. John Keats called this romantic impulse ‘negative capability.’ He said that certain poets, like Shakespeare, had ‘the ability to remain in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’ Keats realized that just because something can’t be solved, or reduced into the laws of physics, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. When we venture beyond the edge of our knowledge, all we have is art.

But before we can get a fourth culture, our two existing cultures must modify their habits. First of all, the humanities must sincerely engage with the sciences. Henry James defined the writer as someone on whom nothing is lost; artists must heed his call and not ignore science’s inspiring descriptions of reality. Every humanist should read Nature.

At the same time, the sciences must recognize that their truths are not the only truths. No knowledge has a monopoly on knowledge. That simple idea will be the starting premise of any fourth culture. As Karl Popper, an eminent defender of science, wrote, ‘It is imperative that we give up the idea of ultimate sources of knowledge, and admit that all knowledge is human; that it is mixed with our errors, our prejudices, our dreams, and our hopes; that all we can do is to grope for truth even though it is beyond our reach. There is no authority beyond the reach of criticism.
Jonah Lehrer, American journalist who writes on the topics of psychology, neuroscience, and the relationship between science and the humanities, Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Mariner Books, 2008. 
Nov
13th
Sun
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Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her.
Jacob Bronowski, Polish-Jewish British mathematician, biologist, historian of science (1908-1974), Science and Human Values (1956)
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Tim Love on Science and the Arts

“Maths and music make claims to be universal languages of sorts. Science’s base metaphors are increasingly mathematical - building conceptual models from billiard balls is a thing of the past. Some theorists (for example Wimsatt) consider metaphor central to poetry. Colin Turbayne [1] thinks that that science is metaphor-laden too, the metaphors dead. Waismann [quoted in 2] argues that scientific concepts are only closed in specific contexts and that they are not different in kind to the metaphors of poetry. (…)

Quantum Theory - In Quantum Theory, probabilities can be calculated but only when an observation is made can any certainty be established. Observation is said to ‘collapse the probability function.’ This has been used for an analogy to the way that a text is interpreted (dis-ambiguated) by the act of reading [3]. (…)

Relativity - Connections are made between Einstein’s Special Relativity and analytic cubism. Awareness of the equal importance of world viewpoints, the impossibility of absolute motion and time perhaps permeated via the Zeitgeist to artists; the link came from no deep mutual understanding.

Gödel - Gödel’s findings have helped soften artists’ views on science and has removed an aim of classical science. They have only made maths more obviously like the other sciences. The gap between science and the arts hasn’t thereby been reduced.

Geometry - Mondrian is heavily geometric and minimalist. This doesn’t make him more appealing to mathematicians. Equally, the 4-colour problem in maths isn’t appealing to artists.” “
Tim Love, poet, computer officer at Cambridge University, Science and the Arts, PhysLink, Sept 1995 [1] C. Turbayne, 'The Myth of Metaphor', Univ of South Carolina Press, 1970, [2] P.L. Hagen, Peter Lang, ‘Metaphor’s Way of Knowing’, 1995, [3] Ian Mills, 'The Quantum Uncertainty of the Narrator', in ‘Poetry Review’ V85.1, Spring 1995.
Nov
11th
Fri
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How did Einstein’s musical practice inform his scientific work


“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” — Albert Einstein

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge. (…) All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration. (…) At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”
— Albert Einstein cited in Paul Schilpp, 1979, Albert Einstein: Autobiographical Notes

The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception."
— A. Einstein stated to Shinichi Suzuki, musical historian and instructor cited in Shinichi Suzuki, 1969. “Nurtured by Love. A New Approach to Education”, p.90.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
A. Einstein cited in Alice Calaprice, 2000, The Expanded Quotable Einstein” p. 10, 22, 287.

“Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties.”
Hans Einstein, Einstein’s son cited in Ronald W. Clark, 1971. “Einstein. The Life and Times”, p106.

“After playing piano, he would get up saying ‘There, now I’ve got it’, something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.”
Einstein’s sister Maja, cited in Jamie Sayen, 1985. ”Einstein in America”, p26.

Einstein recognized an unexplainable connection between music and his science, and notes that Einstein’s mentor, Ernst Mach had indicated that music and the aural experience were the organ to describe space.”
— Einstein’s close friend Alexander Mozskowski cited in Robert Mueller, 1967 unknown work, p171.

Inspired by Quora question: How did Einstein’s musical practice inform his scientific work?

See also:

☞ Brian Foster, Einstein and his love of music (pdf), physicsweb, Jan, 2005
☞ Arthur I. Miller, A Genius Finds Inspiration in the Music of Another, NYT, Jan 31, 2006.
Nov
5th
Sat
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The platonist metaphor assimilates mathematical enquiry to the investigations of the astronomer: mathematical structures, like galaxies, exist, independently of us, in a realm of reality which we do not inhabit but which those of us who have the skill are capable of observing and reporting on. The constructivist metaphor assimilates mathematical activity to that of the artificer fashioning objects in accordance with the creative power of the imagination.
Michael Dummett, British philosopher. He was, until 1992, Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford, Truth and Other Enigmas, Harvard University Press, 1978, p.225.
Nov
2nd
Wed
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I think we should - we need to recognize also that sometimes the actual universe is more fascinating than even our imagination, and it can spur - it can spur our imagination not just as scientists, but I also, I suspect, as - for artists.
Lawrence Krauss, American Theoretical Physicist who is Professor of Physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the Origins Project at the Arizona State University, ☞ Werner Herzog and Lawrence Krauss on Connecting Science and Art
Oct
26th
Wed
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Science and art are seen as two very distinct endeavors and I suppose they are. But I see science and art as the yin yang of creative culture and innovation. To quote from Wikipedia, science and art are seemingly contrary forces that are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and they give rise to each other in turn.
Fred Wilson is a VC and principal of Union Square Ventures, To Science And Art, Business Insider, June 15, 2011
Apr
21st
Thu
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Werner Herzog and Lawrence Krauss on Connecting Science and Art


Science and art often seem to develop in separate silos, but many thinkers are inspired by both. Novelist Cormac McCarthy, filmmaker Werner Herzog and physicist Lawrence Krauss discuss science as inspiration for art.

Q: "Where do you see the connection between science and art?

LK:Science addresses - really what it does at its best is force us to reassess our place in the cosmos. Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?

And those are the very same questions that you get in art, literature, music. Every time you read a wonderful book or see a wonderful film, you come out of it with a different perspective of yourself, and too often, it seems to me, we forget that cultural aspect of science, and that’s the reason we’re celebrating it here.

And they come together in some sense in the notion of origins. Origins really is one place where, it seems to me, those two worlds connect the closest, because we all wonder about our origins in different ways.

And it’s the forefront of science in almost every field and yet, of course, it’s really what we’re asking ourselves when we think about literature and art. (…)

One of the - you know, we - all of what we’re talking about is human imagination, in a way. And in fact, to bring Feynman up, I guess, he said science is imagination in a straightjacket.

And I think - and we have to recognize that we, as humans, I guess, want to and love to imagine not only the world the way it is but the world as it might be. And many of us want the - hope that there are worlds that are better.

And that’s great. I think that’s really important. But there are two aspects to it. One is we have to accept that the world we live in is what it is. And if people would just recognize that the world is the way it is whether we like it or not, I think it would change a lot the way people behave.

But at the same time, I think we should - we need to recognize also that sometimes the actual universe is more fascinating than even our imagination, and it can spur - it can spur our imagination not just as scientists, but I also, I suspect, as - for artists. And that’s why I think it’s another good reason to sort of keep up with some of the fantastic things that are happening in the world.

Because I think if all three of us were locked in a room without any access to information about how the world behaved, that none of our work would be as -hopefully, well, I suspect as creative or interesting as it might be. (…)

Sometimes, when you try and confront the real world, as a scientist, it’s terrifying because it forces you to throw away a lot of things you believe. And sometimes, you have to go away from it. And I think - that’s what I mean. I think the convergence of science and art in the sense that if -that what that science was saying is confronted with the reality of those caves (unintelligible). It was difficult for him to deal with.

And I - and even as a theoretical physicist, sometimes just alone at night, confronted with the possibility that the real universe might actually correspond to something you’re thinking about is terrifying. (…)

And in some ways, we have to realize that, yet, once again, we have to confront our own, in some sense, an unfriendly universe potentially, but also our own insignificance in a cosmic sense, and what significance we make of ourselves. To me, part of it is our ability to - this amazing gift we have to appreciate the universe and imagine it not just as it is but as it might be in order to understand ourselves better. That’s why I find this connection.”

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Lawrence Krauss and Werner Herzog on the future of man

Werner Herzog:It’s quite evident that human beings, as a species, will vanish and fairly quickly. When I say quickly, maybe in two or three thousand years, maybe 30,000 years, maybe 300,000, but not much more, because we are much more vulnerable than other species, despite a certain amount of intelligence. (…)

I’m not speaking of self-destruction, which could happen, of course, but that many events thinkable out there which would instantly wipe us out.

Lawrence Krauss: Oh, absolutely. That’s likely to happen. That will inevitably happen anyway. But I think there might be a rosier future. Just let me throw one thing in which I think is rosy. (…)

I’m not sure it’s the rosy future that some people would think about. But, you know, I’ve talked about the fact that, you know, we imagine we are the pinnacle of evolution, but I doubt that’s the case.

And in fact, I think it’s quite clear to me in the long run that I think computers will one day be - if we persist as a species to develop them - will one day become self-aware and conscious, and it’ll be obvious to me that they’re much, much - they’ll probably be much superior to us, and biology will have to, in some way, adapt to them. (…)

So I think, you know, we may disappear as a species just because we become irrelevant, as well as being destroyed. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. That’s just - that may be the future.

And I think, you know, I think where I really would agree with what - certainly what Werner said, in some sense, is that we shouldn’t be - and with Cormac - we shouldn’t be depressed if we disappear. We should be thrilled that we’re here right now.

I see no purpose in the universe, from science, and that doesn’t depress me. That just means we should make the most of our brief moment in the sun. (…)

Sometimes, when you try and confront the real world, as a scientist, it’s terrifying because it forces you to throw away a lot of things you believe. And sometimes, you have to go away from it. And I think - that’s what I mean. I think the convergence of science and art in the sense that if -that what that science was saying is confronted with the reality of those caves (unintelligible).

And I - and even as a theoretical physicist, sometimes just alone at night, confronted with the possibility that the real universe might actually correspond to something you’re thinking about is terrifying. (…)

And in some ways, we have to realize that, yet, once again, we have to confront our own, in some sense, an unfriendly universe potentially, but also our own insignificance in a cosmic sense, and what significance we make of ourselves. To me, part of it is our ability to - this amazing gift we have to appreciate the universe and imagine it not just as it is but as it might be in order to understand ourselves better. That’s why I find this connection.”

Lawrence Krauss, American Theoretical Physicist, Werner Herzog, German film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and opera director, Connecting Science and Art, NPR, April 8, 2011.
Mar
16th
Wed
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Science is our century’s art.
Horace Freeland Judson, historian of molecular biology, The Search for Solutions, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York, 1980, p.10.
Feb
23rd
Wed
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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
Jul
5th
Mon
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Gilles Deleuze on philosophy, art and science

“If we can create philosophies, art and science, then this tells us that thought is productive. If we understand the power that drives this production, then we will be able to maximize our creativity, our life and our future.

Science may give consistent descriptions of the actual world, such as the things we observe as ‘facts’ or ‘states of affairs,’ but philosophy has the power to understand the virtual world. This is not the world as it is, but the world beyond any scientific observation or experience: the very possibility of life… Life is difference, the power to think differently, to become different and to create differences.

If we want to know what something (such as art, science, or philosophy) is, then we can ask how it serves life…The problem today is that when we ask what art or philosophy are, we tend to feel they should serve some everyday function: making us better managers or communicators. We fail to see that the purpose and force of art and philosophy goes beyond what life is to what it might become.” “
Gilles Deleuze, French philosopher (1925-1995) (tnx montycantsin)
May
11th
Tue
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Piet Hein on Art and Science

“Of course I see the necessity for specialization,” he says. “Nobody more strongly believes in the need to specialize than the person who has trespassed from one field to the other. I do not dispute the need for specialization, but I don’t think the way we do it is the right way. The specialist must know more of the total human activity.

It is not just a question of listening politely to a few lectures from people in other fields, or of a few cross-technical conferences. We have to cut over the whole attitude of our civilization.

After all, what is art? There is no way of defining art except from the inside. Art is the creative process and it goes through all fields. Einstein’s theory of relativity – now that is a work of art! Einstein was more of an artist in physics than on his violin.

Art is this: art is the solution of a problem which cannot be expressed explicitly until it is solved.” Stop there, says the listener, hold it. This man who claims to dig through the English language as slowly as a mole repeats it slowly on request: “Art is the solution of a problem which cannot be expressed explicitly until it is solved.

“‘Art’ is a word,” he explains. “Ideas go in and out of words as air goes in and out of a room with all windows and doors widely open. Most words are just a scrap heap—what do you call it?—an attic, where you put old things. Now I have had the good fortune of working both in the arts—painting and writing poems and prose—and in the sciences and technology. The creative process is the same in all these fields. The creative process is in formulating the problem. Once that is done in the right way, it’s all routine tablework. The problem is solved.
Piet Hein, Danish scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet (1905-1996), “A Poet With a Slide Rule: Piet Hein Bestrides Art and Science” by Jim Hicks in the Close-Up section of Life, Vol 61, No 16, Oct 14, 1966,  p. 64. Cited by Angus Stocking in “An Appreciation of Piet Hein: The Man Who Wrote 10,000 Grooks”. Cited in Entersection See also:
Art and Science tag on Lapidarium