Sunday, January 18, 2015

sine scientia ars nihil est

"Without knowledge, art is nothing"
In addition to the myth that we only use 10% of our brains, neuroscience has long neglected the idea that "left-brain thinkers" are more analytical and logical (scientists), while "right-brained thinkers" are more imaginative and creative (artists). I always struggled with this broad characterization growing up, since I'm an analytical thinker, but mostly express myself through creative methods. There is no scientific support for this idea; in fact, studies have shown that the brains of both artists and scientists share similar neurological activity when in the process of thinking creatively. In other words, there is no difference in brain function when thinking about science or art. Being able to solve complex scientific problems requires creativity and imagination. Likewise, being able to paint a landscape requires logical understanding of composition and color theory. To be human is to be a creative.

Image via Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience
"Patterns of activation during an fMR word association task performed by artists (Figure 1a) and scientists (Figure 1b) show strikingly similar patterns of activation in multiple regions of association cortex and areas involved in socioaffective processing. fMR, functional magnetic resonance."
We are constantly exploring the intersection of art and science—you just have to know where to look.

Nerve fibers in a human brain mapped by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):

Image via Wellcome Image Awards

Animated chart of 42 North American butterflies by science illustrator, Eleanor Lutz:

Image via TabletopWhale

The "Pillars of Creation" - a region of M16, or the Eagle Nebula:

Image via NASA/APOD

Sculptures by inventor/artist John Edmark:

Fibonacci Zoetrope Sculptures from Pier 9 on Vimeo
"These are 3-D printed sculptures designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. The placement of the appendages is determined by the same method nature uses in pinecones and sunflowers. The rotation speed is synchronized to the strobe so that one flash occurs every time the sculpture turns 137.5º—the golden angle. If you count the number of spirals on any of these sculptures you will find that they are always Fibonacci numbers."

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