Understanding Science through Art

We have no way to directly observe molecules and what they do — Drew Berry wants to change that. At TEDxSydney he shows his scientifically accurate (and entertaining!) animations that help researchers see unseeable processes within our own cells.

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One Response to Understanding Science through Art

  1. alfy says:

    I loved the animations; they were great and so informative.

    On the Art versus science kick, it reminded me of a disputation at college when George and I worked together. The Art department was very switched on by the DNA models which were current at the time, with white balls for oxygen, blue for hydrogen and black for carbon, etc. Liking to be trendy they had students make their own models as part of an art project.
    They were unwise to ask me what I thought of them. I explained that accurate molecular models of DNA operated on two levels; 1 they were aesthetically pleasing, because the Art department had confirmed this; and 2 they had high information content and could be used to teach students about molecular structure.

    Unfortunately the models produced by the art students might be aesthetically pleasing, but their information content was not just ZERO it was actually negative because it contained all kinds of impossibilities like a hydrogen atom being bonded to two carbons and a nitrogen for good measure which could easily confuse a sensitive and impressionable science student.

    It led me to formulate a proposition, that while excellent science can often be aesthetically pleasing, it is very unlikely that anything artistic will contribute much to scientific understanding. The traffic tends to be one-way. This is hurtful to those who believe in the unity of knowledge, but true for all that.

    This excellent clip shows how good art can be a real help in promoting the understanding of difficult scientific concepts.

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