A Way Of Thinking

Carl Sagan once said,  “[Science ismore than a body of language; it’s a way of thinking.”

Fellow scientist, Lawrence Krauss added to this concept by stating,  “The real world, as it actually is, is not evil — it’s remarkable.   And the way to understand the physical world is to use science.”

Oftentimes, I’ve heard people discuss science and the arts, claiming that each of these domains are separate from the other … that science is not creative and that there is no science to any domain within the arts umbrella.

It has been my experience that artists have a way of thinking that is accepted by the world at large to be different.  Artists are given leeway to be eccentric within the parameters of their artistic expression and, sometimes, within the parameters of their interactions with others in society.  And as they create their body of work, a signature that ties each work within that body of work is expressed along with a point of view that is uniquely that of the artist even if others share a similar point of view.   Each body of work is a way for the artist to understand the physical world in which we all live.

It has also been my experience that scientists have a way of thinking that is accepted by the world at large to be different.   Likewise, scientists are given leeway to be eccentric within the parameters of their research and, sometimes, within the parameters of their interactions with others in society.  And as they progress in their research, a signature that ties each published paper based on the scientist’s research which becomes his or her body of work is shared along with the logical interpretation that is uniquely that of the  scientist even when others share a similar point of view.   Each body of work is a way for the scientist to understand the physical world in which we all live.

But does logic cross into the artistic domain and does creativity cross into the scientific domain?

The human brain represents only 2% of the physical body.  Within that 2% of the physical body, however, are 100 billion neurons with an average of 20 billion neocortical neurons and between 60 and 240 trillion synapses in the cerebral cortex.  Imagine the fireworks display that goes on inside your head over the course of a single moment alone!

And yet, with all that going on inside a brain, there are only twelve pairs of cranial nerves according to science. 

What you won’t find in any research are the nerves that affect feelings and emotions.  That’s found somewhere that science hasn’t been able to find to date.  And yet, it’s feelings and emotions that oftentimes drive scientists to research what they research, and to find the concrete answers of scientific questioning, the creativity found in “what if” must be present. 

No one ever researched anything without having a reason to do so, and no one ever started down a path of research without asking questions, one of which includes the words “what if.”

And just as with science, artists — be they musicians, painters, photographers, writers, etc. — begin their each creative journey with a similar approach at the centre of their artistic endeavour.  What if I use this colour instead of that?  What if I change this chord progression to include this modulation?  What if I add an unexpected personality trait to one of the secondary characters in this story?  Then what?

And just like the scientists, they wait to see what the “then what” to their “what if” turns out to be.

Yes the way to understand the physical world is to use science … but science isn’t devoid of art just like art isn’t devoid of science.  And yes, there is a science to art just as there’s an art to science.  One cannot, and does not, exist without the other.

The next time someone juxtaposes science against art, remember that the two are inextricably linked.    As long as we allow artists and scientists to be logical and creative at the same time, there will always be advancements made to benefit humankind.

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