Maria Konnikova on Scientific American’s Blog site, here.
Her thesis is that the tools of science–say statistics or small world network analysis–only detract and distract from our understanding of human artifacts like fiction. Perhaps so–certainly the meaning of Hamlet is not to be found in its word frequency histogram. And yet, without question, some human art forms like music are intensely mathematical and here, the meaning does have close relations with the underlying natural order of the thing.
Is art conducive to good science? I think so. There is something about artistic expression which intuitively hooks into the process of scientific creativity.
At some crucial point, a scientist takes a leap of faith, with a hypothesis, that sets up a trajectory of experiments, data gathering and assumed risk. To my mind, this isn’t so different from the gamble that an artist takes in conceptualizing a piece.
One of the nice aspects of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study is the interplay between natural beauty, science and art. Today the forest outside my office window is denuded of leaves; the trees look, of course, like neuronal dendrites.
While inside our cellular imaging core, our researchers are imaging neuronal dendrites–real ones using confocal microscopy.
In the meantime, 20 km away in downtown DC, Krasnow PI Paul So’s Hamiltonian Gallery is an another example of how inspired physics (Paul is a professor in the Physics department here at Mason) and art can interplay off one another.