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The Mind of a Scientist = The Mind of an Artist??

Linnea Ista lkista at UNM.EDU
Wed Jan 8 13:33:43 EST 1997

On 8 Jan 1997, Cindy Hale wrote:

> Chris Odt Wrote " I am an artist in my other life,"...
> I am also and artist/biologist and there are a very large number (seems to 
> me) of my biological friends who are also artists.  Further, my artist 
> friends have great interest in biology as well.
> It makes me wonder about this left right brain stuff.  Supposedly the right 
> brain is the "artistic" side and the left the "analytical" so the more 
> scientific.  But science is very creative in practice.  You need to be 
> able to visualize and make sense of things in a very abstract way many 
> times. Great artists/musicians/etc. have an understanding of their 
> media which is very detailed and meticulous which gives them the ability to 
> DO what they want with it.  This seems more "left brainish" to me.
> I seems to me that science and art are very similar processes and that our 
> brains are doing very similar things.
> So what do you all think?

I belong to a dance group. Some one remarked one day that they found it 
very strange that many of the most active people (and some of the best 
dancers) were scientists and engineers.  They put it down to some sort of 
need for order and precision that allowed us to dance well. I think this 
is a common misconception about science in general: that science is not a 
creative endeavour and that scientists are not  creative people. This 
same person a few weeks later was disappointed to learn that a woman who 
was leading a particularly exuberant dance is not a school teacher, but, 
in fact, an engineer. "What a waste of all that enthusiasm and life, 
being stuck in a lab all day". I didn't know how to respond.

This kind of ties in to the "Why I love science" thread. In addition to 
the feeling of total awe I get from observing the marvels of the 
bacterial world and connecting all the pieces of the puzzle and all the 
other wonderful things that folks have said, I get the same exact sense 
of joy and connectedness when I am doing science and doing it well as I 
do when I have worked on a particularly hard piece of choreography and 
finally mastered it!

Just my opinion, of course!

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