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What’s same/different about Science and the Arts?

Science Online Vancouver sponsored an event discussing Science and Art at Science World on Mar. 12. 

As a fan of Leonardo da Vinci, I find this subject irresistible. Science World's diva of delight and curator of curiosity, Sandy Eix, introduced the group to the new exhibit Creativity in Motion. Creator Steve Gerberich has created an amazing series of moving marvels made of found pieces assembled in myriad ingenious and fun ways. I found it amazing how easily a coffee pot can be made to look like a face, and that is what I doodled while there.

Then about forty (?) of us — some artists, many scientists, some in between — assembled to discuss science and art (assuming this encompasses more than just visual arts).

An immediate answer to what's the difference between science and art might be something like science is objective and art is subjective, which can be strengths or weaknesses depending on your point of view. My eight-year-old daughter told me that in science "you have to discover something" but in art "you get to do what you want." But personality traits can influence your choice of scientific field and the way you approach a question. And aspects of artistic judgement can have biological foundations in the ways we are wired.


Related to the objective/subjective division is the idea that science is about rational information and art is about irrational feelings. But certainly, a scientific discovery can be an exhilirating feeling and the response to a new understanding about the way the world works can be moving.  And art can change your perceptions about something and most scientific explanations have some kind of metaphor embedded in them. Famous physicist Richard Feynman has chafed a bit about the implication that a scientist cannot appreciate beauty. We can distinguish the arts and sciences as processes that grow from a sense of wonder, potentially available to each of us as human beings. Koestler in the Act of Creation saw arts and sciences on a continuum. Our group did not come to any conclusions but raised many questions, which I have enjoyed thinking about.

What do you think/feel about all this?