Art, Meet Science

By Sean Carroll | December 31, 2009 12:55 pm

Apologies for the dismal lack of blogging — apparently even scientists travel around the holidays, who knew? I’m in South Carolina at the moment, so instead of the well-constructed argument (complete with witty parenthetical asides) on a pressing issue of the moment that I’d love to provide, please accept this simple link to some sketches by Richard Feynman. (Via Chad Orzel, author of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog.)

Feynman’s fondness for drawing is well-known, especially when the subject was naked ladies. The sketches aren’t going to win any art competitions, but they’re certainly better that I could do. And here’s one I bet very few professional artists could pull off:


I find that the subtle use of integration by parts really speaks of man’s inhumanity to man, don’t you agree?

But my favorite recent example of science-inflected art has to be this newly discovered late-period Jackson Pollock:


Oops, sorry; that’s not an abstract expressionist masterpiece at all. It’s a plot of theoretical predictions and experimental constraints for dark matter, as linked by Brian Mingus in comments. Check out dmtools if you’d like to make your own plot. Science and art are for everyone.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Arts, Science and Society
  • daisyrose

    Everyone can draw ! When drawing from life it is easy to tell right away how well you succeeded e.g. what you saw -patterns, visual sensations … and how well you put it down, if you have anything to say, and if there is any pleasure in looking at it.

  • miko

    That integration-by-parts line was great. Would it be weird to frame that picture and put it on the wall?

  • Timon of Athens

    “Would it be weird to frame that picture and put it on the wall?”

    Not at all. That would go well beyond the merely weird.

  • GR

    Here’s a dark matter graph, obviously real since it even appeared on a colloquium flyer:

  • Maria Odete Madeira

    Hmmm…, that late-period Jackson Pollock is very rupestral…

    Ars, artis (Lat.), particularly significative is the Latin adjective artus (narrow, that which is fit) which incorporates an idea of proportion, well fit.

    The same root is present in the Greek ararisko, with the meaning of: to harmonize in accordance to the ends. In Greek, however, there is another term, perhaps much more fit to the sense of art: techne, used to signalize the ability in the doing in accordance with an eidos of excellence.

    Maybe it is not such a bad idea for art to give a hand to science… (sorry :) )


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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