So the new Seed is now on the newstands. I’ve got a longish essay sketching out possible future interactions between science and art:
The current constraints of science make it clear that the breach between our two cultures is not merely an academic problem that stifles conversation at cocktail parties. Rather, it is a practical problem, and it holds back science’s theories. If we want answers to our most essential questions, then we will need to bridge our cultural divide. By heeding the wisdom of the arts, science can gain the kinds of new insights that are the seeds of scientific progress.
Don’t worry, the whole article doesn’t consist of such vague platitudes. In fact, the essay is full of specific examples of how science could actually benefit from a sincere engagement with the arts. Better yet, Seed actually found a bunch of scientists (from Daniel Gilbert to Daniel Levitin) who describe how various works of art (from Dvorak to Escher) influenced their own scientific ideas.
Elsewhere, bioephemera has a really smart response to the article. Although she disagrees with some of my points, I heartily endorse her conclusion:
So what place does art have in science? It enhances creativity. It helps us see things with new eyes – prompting us to ask new questions or resolve intractable problems. In the quantitatively inclined, it maintains a healthy left-brain/right-brain balance: most scientists I know are either artists or musicians (I may have a biased data set). And because art vaults right over jargon and equations, it’s the best tool we have for sharing complex scientific concepts with nonspecialists, or for “re-phrasing” what we know, so we can consider it from a new angle.
If you find the intersection of art and science interesting, be sure to check out my book.