Portrait Of A Scientist As A Young Artist

Via Daniel Pink’s Twitter stream and BoingBoing, a little hard data about the relationship of arts and science that shouldn’t be surprising (but gratifying just the same!)

Robert Root-Bernstein, Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University writes on The Art of Science Learning blog:

In fact, I’ve just published a study that shows that almost all Nobel laureates in the sciences are actively engaged in arts as adults. They are twenty-five times as likely as average scientist to sing, dance, or act; seventeen times as likely to be an artist; twelve times more likely to write poetry and literature; eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft; four times as likely to be a musician; and twice as likely to be a photographer. Many connect their art with their scientific creativity.

Moreover, those folks who produce the new patentable inventions and found the new companies to produce them – they, too, are artistically trained: they are far more likely to have continuous participation in drawing, painting, dancing, woodworking, metal working, and mechanics than their less innovative peers. Ninety percent of them, in interviews, expressed the opinion that the arts should be part of every scientists and technologists education. Eighty percent of them could point to specific ways in which their arts training directly enhanced their innovative ability.

The whole article is devoted to pointing out how applications of arts pursuits has aided science and medicine. It is interesting to read about these unrecognized impacts like heart stents having origami in their lineage.

It is also interesting to read through the comments that follow. While some upbraid Root-Bernstein for his condescending tone, they provide examples of the art-science connection of their own and bemoan the emphasis on specialization that fails to recognize and encourage a wider range of skills/interests.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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