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Spenser Davis Two Cultures Blog

 My name is Spenser Davis and I’m a 4th year biochemistry major. I’ve always regarded myself as creative. However, I developed a certain attraction to science and investigative thinking in 5th grade and somewhat departed from the creative side. I never really considered a career in art and thus didn’t see a need to pursue it. I’m taking this class because I wish to explore how science can be applied in an unrelated field.

            Stephen Wilson (2000) mentions that artists might have the creative capacity to do research but, because of their lack of technical training, not the proper scientific background to physically conduct the experiments. I agree with this analysis. The artist might not be fit to wear the lab coat, but is more than appropriate to be a theologist outside the lab (e.g. 3d-modeling of proteins).

            Outside of the lab, Kevin Kelly (1998) explains the clash in popular culture. He states, “How ironic, then, that while science sat in the cultural backseat, its steady output of wonderful products-radio, TV, and computer chips-furiously bred a pop culture based on the arts. The more science succeeded in creating an intensely mediated environment, the more it receded culturally.”

            There is also an internal clash in the scientific world regarding art incorporation. Heisenberg and Schrodinger, the two most influential thinkers with regard to quantum mechanics, criticized each other over their difference approaches (abstract and spatial vs. deterministic) to the theories. (EBTX)

            It can also be said that art helps science and not the other way around. Late last year, “gamers solved the structure of a retrovirus (AIDS) enzyme whose configuration had stumped scientists for more than a decade. The gamers achieved their discovery by playing Foldit, an online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules.” (Science Daily 2011)

            C.P. Snow (1990) states that the separation is due to the natural curriculum of schools. Increasing specialization is the norm, as “…we have set ourselves the task of producing a tiny elite educated in one academic skill.”

            I’ve seen few situations in which art and science both work synergistically. Here are some examples of what comes to mind when I picture the fusion of art and science.

Michelangelo’s fresco of a brain stem – a fusion of art and anatomy.

Da Vinci excavated and studied cadavers to improve his art (ie: drawings of human muscles).

One of my favorite computer wallpaper sites, DigitalBlasphemy, uses computer technology to render images.

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Sources:

Wilson, Stephen. “Myths and Confusions in Thinking about Art/Science/Technology.” College Art Association Meetings, NYC, 2000.

Kelly, Kevin. “Essays on Science and Society”.” Science. 1998, 279(5353), 992-993.

Khatib et al., “Crystal Structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players.” Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. 2011, 18, 1175-1177.

“Schrodinger vs. Heisenberg.” EBTX. Accessed 8 April, 2012. <http://www.ebtx.com/ntx/ntx30a.htm>

Snow, C. P., “The Two Cultures.” Leonardo. 1990, 23(2/3), 169-173.

The Separation of Light from Darkness by Michelangelo; detailed analysis by Wolters Kluwer. Yubanet. <http://yubanet.com/uploads/3/WoltersKluwerIMG1.jpg>

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. Bryn Mawr Edu Blogs. <http://gandt.blogs.brynmawr.edu/files/2009/01/davinci_vman.jpg>

Tendrils by Ryan Bliss. Digital Blasphemy. <http://digitalblasphemy.com/graphics/previews/tendrils_preview.jpg>

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