We often find PRI's (Public Radio International) Science Friday®, with host Ira Flatow right there. Making sense of it all.
This last Friday, Ira had a thought-provoking segment -- discussing this intersection of the Arts and the Sciences.
Turns out, historically, it is a very special place.
Science Friday, PRI, sciencefriday.com -- May 23, 2014
Last week, biographer and journalist Walter Isaacson delivered the 43rd annual Jefferson Lecture -- the government’s highest honor for people working in the humanities. But Isaacson’s message wasn’t just for humanists. He argued that the future belongs to those who can appreciate both the arts and the sciences. Isaacson joins Ira to explain how thinkers from Einstein to Steve Jobs drew on both spheres to make their breakthroughs, and why mixing the two is more important than ever in the digital age.
Produced by Annie Minoff, SciArts Producer
Biographer and Journalist
President and CEO, The Aspen Institute
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Walter Isaacson Lecture: "The Intersection of the Humanities and the Sciences"
Awards & Honors: 2014 Jefferson Lecturer -- neh.gov
That’s what I want to talk about today. The creativity that comes when the humanities and science interact is something that has fascinated me my whole life.
When I first started working on a biography of Steve Jobs, he told me: “I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics. Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”[iii]
It used to be common for creative people to stand at this intersection. Leonardo da Vinci was the exemplar, and his famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man became the symbol, of the connection between the humanities and the sciences. “Leonardo was both artist and scientist, because in his day there was no distinction,” writes science historian Arthur I. Miller in his forthcoming book, Colliding Worlds.
Part of his talent as both a scientist and humanist [Benjamin Franklin] was his facility as a clear writer, and he crafted the words we still use for electrical flow: positive and negative charges, battery, condenser, conductor.
Because he was a humanist, he looked for ways that his science could benefit society. He lamented to a friend that he was “chagrined” that the electricity experiments “have hitherto been able to discover nothing in the way of use to mankind.” [...]
Wouldn't Ben have been surprised, if he could have seen the world that surrounds us today ... the one powered by Electricity and the machines that help us think, learn, and organize ... survive.
Vitruvian Man -- from Wikipedia
This image exemplifies the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and provides the perfect example of Leonardo's deep understanding of proportion. In addition, this picture represents a cornerstone of Leonardo's attempts to relate man to nature. Encyclopaedia Britannica online states, "Leonardo envisaged the great picture chart of the human body he had produced through his anatomical drawings and Vitruvian Man as a cosmografia del minor mondo (cosmography of the microcosm). He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe."
The drawing itself is often used as an implied symbol of the essential symmetry of the human body, and by extension, of the universe as a whole.
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year c. 1490
Type Pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper
At the intersection of the Arts and Sciences ... we will find Invention, Creativity, and the solutions to so many human problems.
Science without Art is sterile.
Creativity without Science is futile.
Must be why we have two different halves to our brains ... wonder what lives there, between them ... at the intersection of those untapped domains?
Perhaps ... Inspiration, hope, and opportunity?